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Monmouth Park is having nothing to do with what the sports leagues are selling when it comes to New Jersey sports betting.
Dennis Drazin, CEO of the company that operates the NJ horse racing track, told Legal Sports Report that the NBA and Major League Baseball “have some nerve” trying to tell the state how to regulate sports betting and deal with the integrity of games and betting outcomes.
“The leagues have many self-inflicted integrity concerns, but NJ should not provide them an opportunity to receive revenue in the form of an integrity fee to police their games when they have the same obligation given the enormous illegal market which already exists,” Drazin said.
Let’s back up. Monmouth is one of the places where wagering will take place should the state win its current Supreme Court sports betting case. A decision should come down before the end of June.
Drazin and Monmouth have been at the forefront of the case dealing with the federal ban on single-game wagering — PASPA — and NJ’s efforts to legalize wagering dating back to 2012. The track has a deal in place with William Hill already to offer a sportsbook and has said multiple times that it would be up and running within weeks of a decision.
Now, as the state nears what many anticipate could be a victory in the case, two of the litigants (MLB and NBA) have taken to lobbying for what they want when it comes to possible legal wagering in the state. A draft bill to regulate and tax wagering surfaced recently, and it included provisions that could allow those leagues to recoup money from an “integrity fund” in the state.
That’s an amazing development considering the state has paid millions in legal fees trying to fight those leagues in court, along with the NFL, NHL and NCAA.
New reporting says the bill will not include the “integrity fee” upon introduction. But it will be part of the underlying future and discussion of the legislation. And that sticks in the craw of those who have been blocked from offering sports betting.
“Do they really think it costs more to preserve integrity in a legal regulated environment or is it just an attempt to get a revenue share?” Drazin wondered aloud.
The idea of an integrity fee is a refrain in several states considering sports betting bills, as NBA and MLB are asking for up to one percent of the total amount wagered for integrity costs and as a payment for their intellectual property.
Drazin, for one, is vocalizing what many surely are thinking in New Jersey.
“As for the integrity fee, the leagues have some nerve trying to get an integrity fee or disguised revenue share after they anticipate a loss after fighting us for 6 years in court and costing us a combined 9 million dollars in legal fees,” Drazin told LSR via email this week.
If New Jersey wins, the state will almost certainly pass a law formally regulation its sports betting industry. And Drazin — and many others — expect and are prepared for that.
“If PASPA is unconstitutional, new legislation will be needed and you are seeing an Assembly bill that is still a work in progress,” Drazin said. “The current draft has many good provisions and some that need changes.”
Drazin has a novel idea: Maybe the leagues should pay the state.
“I have an idea… perhaps the leagues should pay damages to bettors to recoup losses when they blow a call in a game and officially admit the mistake,” Drazin said. “Example: Cleveland vs. Indiana playoff game where refs blew the LeBron James goaltending call and the next day, the NBA officially announced the refs blew the call.
“Just a thought. Look up how many times the leagues admit the next day that the refs made a mistake.”
While states are not likely to codify something like this in a sports betting law, it’s still a fair point, if the NBA and MLB want to be legally involved with sports betting outcomes. And the league has a problem with tanking already that has serious implications for sports gambling.
Regardless, the leagues may get what they want in some places. But it’s going to be impossible to convince the people who fought for NJ sports betting — like Drazin — that the leagues should have any say in the state.