Recently, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that his state would defy the federal ban on sports betting and would allow gambling on sporting events come the fall. On the other side of the country, the California State Senate Governmental Organization Committee approved legislation to legalize sports betting. If approved by California's Senate, it too would run into the federal ban, but proponents remain optimistic that the prohibition could be lifted soon. An Iowa state subcommittee pushed forward similar measures,
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, also known as the "Bradley Act," banned betting on sports in all but four states, Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, whose legislatures were able to meet a 1991 deadline to approve sports wagering and thus were granted an exemption. The federal law even allowed a loophole, clearly aimed at New Jersey, stipulating that states with legalized casino gambling could have until 1993 to license sports wagering. New Jersey failed to do so. Last fall, New Jersey residents voted 2-to-1 that they would like to see sports betting allowed in the state, and earlier this year, a bill allowing such was passed and signed into law. Christie said he would make no attempt to overturn the federal ban in the regulations his administration would set on the practice.
Proponents of permitting sports betting argue that wagering on sports already goes on illegally, and legitimizing it would bring it out into the light of day, eliminating corruption. Furthermore, it could bring extra revenue to states whose budgets are particularly cash-strapped in these dire economic times. Opponents say that such measures encourage gambling, a habit with many negative side effects, and that sports wagering would jeopardize the integrity of the sports (the NFL is a particularly vocal opponent of legalizing sports betting, though some speculate this is because it would put extra pressure on referees to make the correct calls). Should sports betting be legal? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Roderick D. Wright California State Senator
Gary Payne Managing Director of the International Sports Betting Association
Raymond J. Lesniak New Jersey State Senator
John Warren Kindt Professor at the University of Illinois