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article imageNCAA Raises Stakes on Sports Betting Suit Special

By Charles W. Kim     Aug 13, 2009 in Sports
In response to a federal lawsuit filed to allow sports betting in New Jersey, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is increasing the stakes by threatening to ban college tournaments and championships in states that allow wagering.
The NCAA Executive Committee met Aug. 6 and adopted a policy to prohibit states that allow wagering on single sports games from hosting any round of championship games, according to a press release.
“No predetermined or non-predetermined session of an NCAA championship may be conducted in a state with legal wagering that is based upon single-game betting (high school, college or professional) in a sport in which the NCAA conducts a championship,” according to the release.
The NCAA defines sports betting as wagering involving a money line or point spread and would not include states that allow parlay, sports pull tabs, or lottery games, according to the release.
The move comes as Delaware prepares to begin taking game bets at their casinos, horse racing tracks and fairgrounds Sept. 1, and a federal lawsuit to allow betting in New Jersey and 46 other states runs through the courts.
Delaware, which enacted sports betting legislation earlier this year, believes the move will generate more than $50 million in revenue, a spokesman for Gov. Markell said in May.
Four professional sports leagues including the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, filed a suit last month to try and block the state from implementing sports betting, a July 24 joint statement from the leagues said.
The complaint claims the state is violating the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act banning single game wagering nationally except for Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware.
New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak filed suit with two horse racing associations and a national Internet gaming trade organization based in Washington, challenging the federal law because it does not apply to all states equally, according to the complaint.
Lesniak’s suit, if successful, is expected to generate $100 million in revenue to the financially troubled state through taxes and fees generated by the wagering.
Gov. Jon Corzine filed a motion to join the suit because he fears Delaware’s actions could hurt Atlantic City and gambling business there, according to Corzine’s office.
“It breaks my heart,” Lesniak said responding to the NCAA action. “(Betting) would bring in a hell of a lot more (money) than the NCAA (events) would bring in.”
Lesniak called the amount of money collected through the college events “insignificant,” and said the NCAA committee’s decision is only “a paper tiger,” and would likely be “out the window” if the suit is successful and other states allow single game wagering.
“A ton of other states will pass (sports betting),” Lesniak said. “They may have to play their (championship) games in North Dakota.”
As far as the professional sports teams go, Lesniak said the leagues would use common sense and not do something drastic like pulling teams out of states where betting becomes legal.
“The (New York) Giants and Jets (NFL teams) have a new stadium (planned in New Jersey),” Lesniak said. “It would be stupid and idiotic to pull them out.”
Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon would not comment on the potential consequences should Lesniak’s suit succeed and betting legalized in the state.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy also declined to comment on specific actions the league may or may not take except for the joint suit filed against Delaware.
McCarthy did say in an earlier interview that the league is vehemently opposed to single game betting on any of their games.
Meanwhile, the United States Department of Justice has filed documents trying to deny Corzine’s attempt to join the suit, claiming he does not have the authority to intervene on the part of the state.
In a response to the DOJ motion, Corzine’s counsel filed a brief claiming the State’s constitution gives Corzine the authority to pursue the litigation as part of his duties in office.
Lesniak said court action may begin later this fall, but he would be willing to take the case to the United States Supreme Court if necessary.
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