New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation Friday establishing a sports book in the Garden State.
“As I’ve said all along, I am a strong proponent of legalized sports wagering in New Jersey,” the Republican explained in a prepared statement. “But given earlier decisions by federal courts, it was critical that we follow a correct and appropriate path to curtail new court challenges and expensive litigation. I believe we have found that path in this bipartisan legislative effort.”
The passage of the bill follows a 2012 sports-gambling law struck down in federal court and vigorously opposed by the NFL and NHL, both of which boast teams in New Jersey.
Backers of the legislation believe a legalized sports book will boost Atlantic City, flailing from increased casino competition in the northeast, the prolonged economic downturn from 2008, and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Four major Atlantic City casinos–Trump Plaza, Revel, the Showboat, and the Atlantic Club–have closed in 2014.
Detractors fear it will bring repercussions from the NCAA and possibly professional leagues. In a stunning about-face from his predecessor, and in contrast to his colleagues running MLB, the NFL, and the NHL, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver earlier this year called gambling good for the NBA because it keeps bettors interested in watching games. The commissioner candidly explained, “It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that.”
Barring a court injunction, horse-racing venue Monmouth Park, which has partnered with gambling powerhouse William Hill, looks to take bets on NFL action as early as next week.