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Will Trump White House Legalize Sports Betting In The United States?

Christie Could Get Cabinet Position, Trump Once Said Legalization 'Vital'

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With speculation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could be gunning for a U.S. Attorney General appointment by President-elect Donald Trump, there’s perhaps never been such a bright future for regulated sports betting in America.

Trump said back in the early 1990s that sports betting regulation was “vital to putting the bookies out of business.” That was back when he was an Atlantic City casino owner. Sports betting reform has been talked about for years, and Trump ran on a platform of change to the political status quo.

The issue has already been at the forefront of the casino industry’s lobby efforts on Capitol Hill. The American Gaming Association pegs the sports betting black market to be worth about $150 billion, and the group said back in April that the next president “is going to have the issue of legalizing sports betting on their desk.”

“Tuesday’s results ushered in a new era in Washington, D.C,” AGA President Geoff Freeman said of Trump’s victory. “The gaming industry is well positioned to thrive in this new environment because of the important steps we have taken over the last several years to unify around issues of common cause.”

Freeman added that the AGA “is eager to work with the Trump Administration and new Congress” and it’s “optimistic that the coming years will include important victories for the gaming industry.”

A recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University added more momentum to the issue, finding that half of Americans support legal sports betting, while 40 percent oppose it.

Federal legislation, which is forthcoming from New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, would likely allow states to opt in or out. There are now casinos in 40 U.S. states, so many could be interested in allowing the wagering and taxing it.

Freeman told Card Player in an interview that he could see every state with gaming looking at the activity. “I would hope that just about every state is right there at the front leading the way on sports betting,” Freeman said.

Christie and his administration have been trying for the past several years to circumvent the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which banned sports betting in all but a few states that were grandfathered in. New Jersey passed its own sports betting legislation, but the major sports leagues sued to block its implementation. The Garden State has been unsuccessful so far in getting the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case.

A Christie cabinet position, especially Attorney General, would seem to bode well for some sort of sports betting reform, allowing for the struggling Atlantic City casino industry to finally have the activity. But sports betting might be a shoe-in thanks just to Trump.

The former Atlantic City casino boss said in a 2015 interview with Fox Sports that he’s “okay” with it “because it’s happening anyways.” Despite being out of the gambling business in the seaside town, Trump still has friends there.

Over two decades earlier, during his best years attempting to build a casino empire in Atlantic City, Trump was a clear supporter of sports books. Thanks to his comments, along with the casino industry’s, if you could wager on sports betting itself, it would probably be a great bet.