27th of May 2012 Author: Johnny Karp
Tim Dahlberg, a renowned sports columnist for the Associated Press, published an opinion piece this weekend regarding the challenges to the federal Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act as it restricts sports betting to four states.
"The federal government will almost certainly take Christie up on that challenge. So, too, likely will the NFL, which views betting on games with the same kind of antiquated logic it used to trot out every time the issue of concussions came up," Dahlberg wrote.
"But times have changed, as was evident last season when Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn was Patriots' owner Robert Kraft's personal guest at a game, where the two went over plans to build a lavish casino next to the stadium where New England plays.
'The league has also branched off into other forms of gambling, including partnerships with state lotteries that make team owners millions of dollars from people who can afford it the least.
"Feel free to throw your money away on Patriots scratch cards that are almost always sure losers. Play the slots in casinos built on team-owned land. But don't even think about trying to add some enjoyment to a game by betting on your team to win."
"The NFL - which had at least one bookmaker among its founding owners - has taken a harsh stand against sports betting for a good half century now, even while the reasons to justify its opposition have largely vanished.
"The main fear was always that unsavory types would hang around players, and that the fix might be in. But any gambler will tell you it's almost impossible to try and fix any game when bets are made through legal sports books who constantly monitor any swing in the action," he notes.
Joe Asher, CEO of Brandywine Bookmakers, a William Hill plc subsidiary, told Dahlberg: "Right now over 99 percent of sports betting is unregulated and untaxed. It's a market dominated by criminals. There's no way you're going to stop an illegal sports betting market from thriving other than to legalize it."
Dahlberg points out that all states allow some sort of gambling which eliminates social issues, and Asher agreed, saying:
"It's part of the American culture, it's why we watch sports. Creating a legal market for sports betting so that it is regulated; so that it is taxed; and so that legitimate businesses are involved is, of course, a good thing. The sooner that happens, the better for everyone involved."
Dahlberg believes that legalization in New Jersey by the fall of 2012, as predicted by Gov. Christie, is a far stretch.
"That's a good thing, because there should be nothing criminal about making a bet," Dahlberg wrote. "Wall Street traders do the same thing every day, only they're betting on companies instead of teams.
"Take the business out of back rooms and street corners. Legitimize it like in England. Opposition will be fierce, and there's still a long way to go. But I'm laying 7-5 it just might happen."
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