By Ken Edwards, 17 January 2019
He’s a divisive and polarizing character. Love him or hate him, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was almost single handedly responsible for his state pushing the U.S. Supreme Court to get sports betting back in the hands of the states for self-determination.
His tenure as the Governor of New Jersey overlapped with the successful state case against the Federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 that effectively caused sports betting prohibition nationwide. It’s because of Christie that PASPA was overturned and why the states are now able to begin to fill their state revenue coffers with millions of dollars from the industry to spend on infrastructure and health, welfare and education services for their citizens.
Christie is Back!
As legal sports gambling begins to spread throughout the United States, a number of Congressman – lead by Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) – would like to see the federal government oversee the industry.
However, Christie is back and arguing the point earnestly, asserting that the Federal Government just needs to stay out and let the states get on with the job.
At a recent meeting of the National Conference of Legislation from Gambling States in New Orleans, Christie spoke passionately;
“We’re going to reward the people who fought us for seven years with fees that are going to diminish your margins? They don’t need it, and given conduct over the last seven years, they don’t deserve it. We do not need a federal solution to this problem. States have been regulating gambling for decades without incident.”
Christie blasted the pro sports leagues – and the National Football League (NFL) in particular – for their alleged double standards. After the NFL, along with the NHL, NCAA, MLB and the NBA, blocked New Jersey’s attempt to legalize sports betting in court, Christie said he was always open to negotiating with the leagues in order to facilitate legal sports betting.
Christie was prepared to negotiate the so-called “integrity fee,” or a cut-of-gaming-winnings reallocated to the leagues. The Pro Leagues disinclination to negotiate during year-on-year of legal battles, gave Christie no choice but to continue fighting in court and the U.S. Supreme Court came down on the side of New Jersey.
The Integrity Fees & Data Fess Issues
While integrity fees gained little support in statehouses, ‘data fees’ (a compensation payment to leagues in exchange for official match data), are the latest attempt from the leagues to get their piece of the action. As with their previous attempts, Christie wholeheartedly rejected any pro league’s attempts to include the fees in legislation.
Christie, as well as other state officials, have largely resisted the fees, in large part because it presents a threat to state coffers. The former Governor continued;
“These folks will now come to your state capitals and argue with you that they should somehow now get something for free from you that they were unwilling to settle on when they were in the midst of litigation,” Christie told the group of lawmakers.
”(The leagues) don’t need integrity fees,” Christie said. “They don’t deserve a data fee.”
Christie’s closing remarks summed it up succinctly and perfectly for the lawmakers present;
“Talk to your members of Congress. Talk to your United States Senators and tell them, ‘You’ve got plenty to do down there. You can’t even keep the government open. How about, like, once you open the government again you can think about getting into some new stuff?’ ‘You balance the budget, provide for the national defense and get the hell out of sports gambling. You’ve got enough to do.’”