A while ago, I mentioned here that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey planned to implement sports betting in New Jersey despite the presence of a Federal law – - PASPA – - that forbids sports betting in all but the four states that had sports betting as a legal activity prior to the passage of PASPA in 1992. At the time, the governor said that he expected litigation to prevent him from doing that but that he expected to prevail.
Well, at least one tranche of the litigation that he expected has arrived. The NCAA, MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL have all filed suit – I believe it is a single lawsuit and not five separate ones – in Federal court in Trenton NJ to prevent Christie from proceeding down the path to sports betting in New Jersey. As I see it, the five plaintiffs here have two major points in their pleading:
1. PASPA is a Federal law and it forbids sports betting other than in Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. Federal law supersedes state law; and therefore, any action taken by or in New Jersey would violate that Federal law.
2. Gambling is a threat to the integrity of the games and the five plaintiffs will argue that the integrity of the games is the most important thing in the world to them. They will likely pretend that “integrity” is more important to them than revenue and they will do that with a straight face.
When Governor Christie announced what he planned to do – - without even a tip of the cap to the normal procedure of attempting to repeal or amend PASPA as a first step – - he and his advisors had to know this one was coming. So, it will be interesting to see how they respond to this action filed right there in the state capitol of New Jersey.
Just so everyone can know where I come down on all of this, I hope for two outcomes here:
1. I would love for PASPA to be declared unconstitutional on some grounds so that it is stricken from the books. To my mind, PASPA is just another version of Prohibition. It tries to impose the morality of one group on the population in general and in so doing, it is an abject failure in eliminating the “morally objectionable behavior”.
2. I hope that other states that might like to tap into the revenue stream of sports wagering join with New Jersey in fighting this lawsuit.
Two more things here… I wonder what might happen if New Jersey offered to cut any or all of the five plaintiffs in on a percentage of the take from sports betting in New Jersey. That would bring all of them face-to-face with the “integrity” versus “revenue” issue.
I also wonder what might happen if the US Congress decided that PASPA needed to be expanded to protect sports from other “evils” besides gambling – - such as forbidding the use of tax exempt bonds to pay for stadiums for rich owners and rich leagues. Both of those circumstances would produce situations that called for Arte Johnson’s commentary:
Verrry interesting – - but stupid !
Since I am thinking about sports wagering, the Pittsburgh Pirates started the 2012 year with odds of 250-1 to win the World Series. Now that the Pirates are serious contenders to make the NL playoffs – - and after all, the World Series winner has to make the playoffs as a first step toward that goal – - here are the odds on the Pirates as of this morning:
To win the NF Central: 4-1
To win the NL Pennant: 12-1
To win the World Series: 25-1
That is a dramatic change. For the record, the teams with the highest odds to win the World Series as of this morning are:
Chicago Cubs 1,000-1
Colorado Rockies 1,000-1
Houston Astros 1,000-1
Minnesota Twins 1,000-1
San Diego Padres 1,000-1 – - and – -
Seattle Mariners 1,000-1
As you might imagine, I have not followed Olympic dressage at all. However, Olympic dressage has attracted the attention of two great national columnists and so I will present their commentary here for your enjoyment.
Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle is not enamored with dressage; he calls it “horse dancing”:
“If I’m going to watch a rich person’s sport, I’d rather watch Rolls-Royce parallel parking.”
Dave Barry is the brilliant humor columnist for the Miami Herald:
“The word ‘equestrian’ comes from two Greek words: ‘eques,’ meaning ‘horses,’ and ‘trian,’ meaning ‘being ridden by people with large inheritances and names like Edwina Ponce-Twickendale.’ There was indeed a time when the only people who could participate in horse-related sports were wealthy members of the nobility. But times have changed; in the 21st century, equestrian sports, even at the Olympic level, are wide open to anybody, regardless of birth or background, who has billions of dollars.”
Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:
“NASCAR suspended driver A.J. Allmendinger for failing a drug test. He previously was best known for having a funny name.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………