Bravo to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie, who stood up to the biggest pro sports leagues across the US when they sued to prevent NJ from passing sports betting legislation, is at it again. In fact, he didn’t mince words recently when it came to the leagues’ latest efforts to get a piece of the sports betting pie through integrity fees.
In his keynote address to the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States winter meeting in New Orleans, Christie blasted the leagues for having the gall to ask for anything:
“The leagues — the arrogance of the leagues — is the other thing we need to talk about. All of you now are going to have these folks coming into your state capitals and arguing to 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.”
The time for compromise is over
Christie admits he was willing to cut the leagues in through a settlement during the years-long court battle New Jersey was forced to endure with the five largest sports leagues in the country suing to prevent NJ sports betting from moving forward. However, the leagues always said no.
New Jersey lost seven straight decisions before the Supreme Court ruled in its favor last year, costing the state a hefty sum in legal fees.
Once the Supreme Court opened the door to sports betting across the US, Christie said the time for compromise and a piece of the sports betting pie for the leagues had passed:
“They laughed at me. Every one of them laughed at me. They’re not laughing anymore. They don’t have to be our enemy, and they shouldn’t be. But we don’t need to turn over these monies to those leagues. They don’t need it, and given their conduct over the last seven years, I’d argue to you they don’t deserve it.”
Sports betting integrity fees
The leagues have been asking states to legislate that operators pay some kind of integrity fee ever since they ended up on the losing end of the battle to prevent states from legalizing sports betting. So far, no state has deemed it necessary. New Jersey lawmakers even called the idea insulting, considering the legal bills the leagues stuck it with.
Recently the leagues have taken a new tack, attempting to get legislators to force operators to buy league data. It’s a move that would both force operators to buy something they can now get for free and essentially get the leagues the integrity fees they seek.
Most states have been able to see through this as well. However, the members of Congress considering meddling in sports betting with Federal legislation have been convinced by the leagues to adopt the plan.
Christie stopped short of calling this backdoor political move exactly what it is, but maintained Congress should mind its own business when it comes to sports betting:
“We need to stand up and fight strongly against federal regulation on this. We fought for seven years to get the right to do this ourselves. Let’s not give it away.”
The leagues already have their cut
Harsh words, but words that make perfect sense.
In fact, the leagues are already enjoying the benefits of the spread of legal sports betting across the US. They have signed various sponsorship and promotional deals with some of the country’s largest gaming companies, earning them a pretty penny.
Anything more would be too much, and by getting Congress to act as its bag man through overreaching Federal legislation, the leagues are simply going too far.
Thank goodness there are people like Christie willing to stand up against them.