This leaves legal gambling in a precarious state, clinging to its usual footholds in the state of Nevada, other assorted states and of course, the booming industry of online fantasy sports gaming. A lower court ruling voided pending legislation that would legalize full sports betting in New Jersey and this decision was upheld by the US Court of Appeals.
The judges upheld the decision in a 2-1 vote. The two judges made their decision based on their belief that the efforts to legalize full sports betting violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which was passed in 1992 and prohibited any sort of legalized gambling at New Jersey's myriad of racetracks and casinos.
This decision is merely the latest twist on a long, winding road. New Jersey has now spent three years doing battle with a variety of national sports organizations. Since the appetite for spending money on sports wagering has never been high, New Jersey believes that the time has come to have a honest conversation about where we stand as a culture when it comes to sports betting.
Lawmakers from every region of the United States have been viewing these proceedings with great interest. State budgets are sagging throughout the United States and many of these lawmakers see legalized sports betting as a great way to provide themselves with an extra income stream.
After all, tens of millions are already being spent in illegal gambling parlors and on friendly bets between friends and neighbors anyways, why not provide these people with a safe, legal outlet to place their wagers?
Sports and gambling law experts have declared this decision a major victory for fantasy gaming websites, such as DraftKings and FanDuel. The longer these sites are able to operate, while escaping any sort of federal scrutiny, the more revenue they will generate over the long haul.
The decision essentially ensures that these fantasy gaming sites will have the ability to dominate the legalized sports betting sphere for years to come. Professional sports leagues also benefit greatly, as the decision provides them with a great deal of autonomy. They can now dictate the time and place when full-fledged sports betting is finally allowed.
Some states permit fantasy gaming, but a handful of states (Iowa, Arizona, Montana, Washington and Louisiana) have declared them to be illegal. A whopping 57 million people across the United States and Canada participated in these online fantasy games last year. FanDuel and Draft Kings are now worth $1 billion, apiece.
The NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL are all involved in these fantasy gaming sites, with prominent owners such as New England's Robert Kraft serving as investors. Yahoo also decided to get in on the action and with their ability to reach tens of millions of users, they have quickly drawn a massive audience, who is ready to make serious wagers on the daily performance of individual athletes in all sports.
These leagues have a vested interest in protecting their investment, as they all joined the lawsuit against the state of New Jersey, claiming that legalized sports betting would cause "irreparable" damage to the sporting industry in the United States.
The American Gaming Association is not accepting this decision and has indicated that they will simply continue their efforts to bring legal sports betting to a large audience. Since Americans are spending upwards of $140 billion per year on a wide range of sports betting avenues, it is clear that the laws that are currently in place are doing very little to curb gambling appetites.
There is a certain level of inherent hypocrisy when it comes to the actions of these professional sports leagues. Raymond J. Lesniak, a New Jersey Senator and a proponent for the bill to legalize full sports betting, believes that these leagues are not operating with an altruistic intent.
He has spoken out about these leagues' vested interests in maintaining the status quo. As long as fantasy sports gaming remains legal, the four major professional sports leagues stand a far greater chance of being able to run sports gambling and control it themselves.
To many, it is crystal clear to see that this matter is far from over. This is a battle that will continue to rage on in our nation's courthouses for years to come, as state governments seek to wrestle control of legalized gambling away from fantasy gaming sites and professional sports leagues. As states continue to struggle with decreasing budgets, this is a hot button issue that will not be going away anytime soon.
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