A congressman involved in the effort to bring Las Vegas style sports betting to New Jersey said on Monday that the recent hike in fantasy sports offerings promising players big payouts may help to refocus attention on the issue in the state.
Congressman Frank Pallone renewed his efforts to further examine the relationship between traditional sports gambling, the four major professional sports leagues and fantasy sports leagues, at an International Center for Sport Security hosted panel discussion on Monday, and by sending a letter to the Committee on Energy and Commerce which has authority over professional sports. According to an AP report, Pallone said the issue has been pushed to the forefront due to the proliferation of fantasy leagues, and that “It’s been a gradual process, but I think this is going to put them on the spot if we have this hearing.”
The leagues say that fantasy sports leagues and sports betting are not the same and in August of 2012 the state of New Jersey was sued by MLB, the NBA, NHL, NFL and the NCAA in an attempt to stop the state’s plan to allow sports betting on individual games. Claiming that the legalization threatens the “character and integrity” of sporting events, and violates the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which restricts betting on professional and college sports games to all but four states which includes Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.
At the same time New Jersey Republican Frank LoBiondo, and Democrat Pallone, proposed separate legislation that would expand the 1992 law to include sports gambling outside Nevada, but the proposal has been stuck in committee.
The NBA and MLB have changed their public stance on legalizing sports betting, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver has called on Congress to create a federal framework that will allow states to regulate sports betting. Proponents of the legalization of sports gambling say that the leagues suit is hypocritical due to some of their partnerships with fantasy sports leagues whose participants compete in season-long leagues and daily (DFS) competitions that “draft” teams and individual players based on performance. The start of the 2015 NFL season has precipitated the inundation of fantasy sports ads in NFL telecasts.
The leagues attempt to stall the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey has been successful thus far and remains tied-up in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, but a recent request for an, “en banc” review by the court from state officials and the Christie administration offers a glimmer of hope to supporters of sports betting legalization in the state.