Poker & Sports picksDecember 30, 2008

New Jersey Considers Legalizing Sports Gambling

Citing the troubling outlook of the American economy, New Jersey is once again looking to legalize sports gambling. If you ask me, I say the time is now!

With the economy crumbling, states are now looking to find other viable sources of revenue to fund worthy programs, so why not sports gaming? The Garden State seems to think that legalizing and regulating sports gambling is the golden road leading to increased tax revenue. How much? According to a study conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers, if the ban on online gambling was lifted and all 50 states agreed, try to the tune of $42.8 billion overall revenue if all online gambling was legalized! $9 billion of that total amount would be generated by sports gambling alone. In these troubled economic times, what state in our union wouldn’t welcome even a portion of that revenue?

The resolution sponsored by NJ Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Jeff Van Drew was unanimously passed by New Jersey’s Senate Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee earlier this month. The resolution will urge the US Congress to lift the federal ban on sports gambling.

Not only will lifting the ban help generate the much needed revenue, it will take the betting out of the hands of unregulated books and get wagering out in the open and in the light of day. Keep wagering out of the hands of the unsavorys and into a regulated, monitored and “safe” way to bet on sports. Billions of dollars are wagered on sports year in and year out and spent on NFL picks alone, so the government is ignorant and short-sighted by trying to oppose the potential money-making machine. Make sports gambling your friend O’ Washington, and benefit from the generosity and prosperity your new friend can provide you.

Lesniak and Van Drew should be applauded for having the Chutzpah to want to challenge the status quo and push for legalization. The reasons for sports gambling prohibition are silly and outdated and Lesniak calls the ban “arbitrary and unfair.”

The time has come get gambling out of the darkened rooms and into the light to keep organized crime rings out of the picture. There is far too much unregulated money out there than can cause all sorts of problems. We have seen this unfortunate scenario played out with such cases like the well-publicized Tim Donaghy scandal.

I have seen the situation of an unregulated activity/event play out with my own eyes involving another activity that is also near and dear to my heart – the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

Just 15 years ago the sport was deemed “barbaric” and labeled “human cockfighting” by our illustrious presidential runner-up. The sport of MMA that we have today has been able to achieve its success primarily through regulation. When state governments began to see how much revenue could be generated from sanctioning fees, the same governments that decried the sport were now some of the loudest proponents.

Fast forward to today and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a billion dollar per year company and as a sport, MMA has moved from the underground into the limelight. The product we have now is safer and athletes are being lucratively compensated for their fights.

The time is now to seriously push for legalization and regulation. While we should all still Boycott Kentucky, all eyes should be on the Garden State as this monumental push has found a home. If New Jersey passes this legislation who’s to say that it won’t trigger a domino effect and other states in the region and eventually across the nation won’t follow suit? The time is now.