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.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like