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Monday, November 7, 2011

The New Jersey Sports Wagering Fallacy

Tomorrow, New Jersey Voters get to vote on a Referendum to allow sports wagering in Atlantic City Casinos and Racetracks.  A poll by Fairleigh Dickinson says 52% of the voters are in favor of the legislation, but surprisingly 44% of them had not heard anything about the referendum.  Sounds like the referendum should pass, but admittedly with 44% of the people having not heard anything about it, don't expect a rush to the polls of people in favor of it; in reality the referendum will be a ho hummer..  Most likely, those who normally vote will be the ones to make a decision on it; meaning don't count on its passing.

Perhaps one of the things which may influence the vote is an editorial in this morning's The Record.  Now as a rule The Record is very much in support of the Meadowlands, so their endorsement to vote 'No' may be critical considering the anticipated low number of voters voting.  Their reason for saying to vote no?  The fact that any play in the game that goes wrong or ruling by an official may make spectators think the game was 'fixed' (sounds like horse racing); thus changing the entertainment product into a gambling product (do they think all the people watching football on Sundays watch solely because it is a game?).  They also cite the prospect of increasing the number of problem gamblers and the likely cost in getting a court to overturn the federal law.

In the meanwhile SOA of NY's Chris Wittstruck wrote an opinion piece for the USTA regarding this referendum which basically indicates if racing thinks it will benefit horse racing, they should think again.  Sadly, he may be right; while track operators may benefit, will horsemen?  So even if this referendum does pass, the time spent by the legislature voting on regulations for sports wagering which is currently illegal while the state has other problems may be akin to the U.S. House of Representatives taking time out to vote to reaffirm "In God We Trust" while we have a deficit, wars, and a need for jobs.  Sort of like Nero fiddling while Rome is burning.

I am not saying vote 'No' or vote 'Yes'.  All I am saying is if the vote is in favor, don't be excited.  First of all, it will require the Federal Government to repeal their law or a long court fight to get the law overturned. Let's say it does get overturned or repealed and sports betting comes to New Jersey, so what?  Every other state in the nation will hop aboard the sports wagering train that it will be like casino gambling is now, a commodity.  The huge financial gain to the state of New Jersey may end up as a trickle.

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