Lawsuit seeks national sports betting

TRENTON, N.J. — From March Madness brackets to Super Bowl pools to illicit back room wagers, people bet on professional sports every day. But they can do it legally only in four states, and only two states offer state-sanctioned sports wagering.

With Atlantic City casinos in a financial free fall and New Jersey’s budget in shambles, a state lawmaker filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Justice Department that seeks to overturn a U.S. ban on sports betting. The casinos and their political allies say letting people bet legally on sporting events would let all 50 states in on a lucrative revenue source.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Elizabeth, said sports betting already exists, and will continue to whether states tax it or not.

“As Captain Renault said to Rick, ‘I’m shocked — shocked — to find that gambling is going on in here!’ ” he said, quoting from the movie “Casablanca.”

“Gambling is going on here, sports gambling,” Lesniak said. “Rather than supporting thousands of jobs, economic activity and tourism, the federal ban supports offshore operators and organized crime.”

Estimates of illegal sports betting in the United States vary widely, but range as high as $380 billion a year, according to the National Gaming Impact Study Commission.

A consultant hired by one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association, estimated that sports betting could become a $10 billion-a-year industry in New Jersey by 2011 if it were permitted in casinos, at racetracks, online and by telephone. That could generate nearly $100 million a year in tax revenues for the state, said the group’s CEO, Joseph Brennan.

Brennan may want to check in with Nevada, however, before spending the extra tax money. The Silver State is the gold standard when it comes to legal bookmaking. Yet Nevada generates just an estimated $7 million in revenue for its general fund from the practice, said Frank Streshley of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

In 2008, $2.6 billion was wagered on sports in Nevada, with casinos winning $136 million, he said.

On the off-chance that Lesniak succeeds, there isn’t much for Las Vegas to worry about, said Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor.

“If anything, it would probably be positive,” Curtis said. “I wouldn’t sweat it.”

Curtis said most Las Vegas visitors don’t travel to Nevada just to bet on sports. And the ability to bet on sports closer to home wouldn’t necessarily make it less fun to do while in Las Vegas.

However, he said, legalized betting would probably catch on in many places.

“People really, really love betting sports,” he said.

Legalizing sports betting in more places would also likely boost sports leagues, which generally oppose betting on events.

“That is why people watch their games to conclusion,” Curtis said.

Jay Kornegay, executive director of the race and sports book of the Las Vegas Hilton, said the only way widespread, legal sports betting would hurt Nevada is if it were available in California.

“We just have a huge drive-up market from California,” Kornegay said.

Boyd Gaming Corp. spokesman Rob Stillwell, whose company operates the Borgata in Atlantic City, wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit’s merits.

“As operators in both Nevada and New Jersey, we are obviously interested in the prospect and plan to follow this issue very closely,” Stillwell said.

Lesniak’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, seeks to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The 1992 law restricts sports betting to the four states that met a deadline to sign up for it: Nevada, where Las Vegas sports books determine the odds for sporting events across the country; Delaware; Montana; and Oregon.

The law carved out a special exemption for New Jersey, giving it a chance to decide if it wanted legal sports betting. The state failed to enact a law that would have done so, and the exemption window closed.

The lawsuit argues that the U.S. law is unconstitutional because it treats four states differently than the 46 others.

It names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Ralph Marra Jr., New Jersey’s acting U.S. attorney, as defendants. A U.S. Justice Department spokesman said the government will review the lawsuit but declined further comment.

Professional and scholastic sports leagues vehemently oppose legalized sports gambling, arguing that the integrity of the games must be free of suspicion. They cite a long history of gambling-induced scandal, from the 1919 Black Sox, who threw the World Series at the behest of gamblers, to numerous college point-shaving schemes.

Joe Browne, the National Football League’s executive vice president, said the league supports the ban and would be keeping tabs on the lawsuit.

“We do not believe it is in our best interests to have outside parties — whether casinos or local governments — using our games, players and coaches as betting vehicles,” Browne said.

Review-Journal writers Benjamin Spillman and Howard Stutz contributed to this report.

Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like