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Former New Jersey Governor Advocates For States’ Rights In Sports Betting Markets

Chris Christie Pushes Back Against Federal Bill With Speech In Front Of Lawmakers In New Orleans

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Former NJ Governor Chris ChristieIn December, a bi-partisan bill was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) which would give federal oversight and regulation to the federal sports betting market. Last week, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said that he sees no need for it.

Christie appeared in New Orleans last Friday to speak at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States Conference, where he led the charge against the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018.

The bill would set up federal regulatory bodies to oversee the state-by-state sports betting markets, as well as create a National Sports Wagering Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse would be used to compile data to track suspicious transactions and money laundering.

Christie argued that this isn’t needed because states have done a sufficient job in policing the markets themselves.

“We do not need a federal solution to this problem,” said Christie. “States have been regulating gambling for decades without incident.”

Christie’s opinion echoes that of the American Gaming Association. The AGA has been weary of federal regulation of the sports betting industry and opposes the currently proposed legislation.

“This bill is the epitome of a solution in search of a problem, representing an unprecedented and inappropriate expansion of federal involvement in the gaming industry, which is currently one of the most strictly,” said senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA, Sara Slane, in a press release last December.

Along with federal oversight, Christie urged against giving leagues ‘integrity fees’ in return for using the official league data for betting purposes. In 2011, during Christie’s tenure as Governor, New Jersey voters passed a measure to allow sports betting in the state as a measure to help New Jersey’s casinos in the rough economic conditions.

The measure was immediately met with pushback from both the NCAA and the major sports leagues.

“We’re going to reward the people who fought us for seven years with fees that are going to diminish your margins?” asked Christie. “They don’t need it, and given their conduct over the last seven years, they don’t deserve it.”

While both Christie and the AGA are against the bill, most major sports leagues are in favor of it. The leagues feel that the federal model is more efficient with just one set of rules to follow. With regard to the integrity fees, Dan Spillane, senior vice president of the NBA thinks it’s a fair request for the leagues in return for data that can be used for in-game betting lines.

“We don’t think this is an unreasonable ask, or something that’s going to cripple the industry,” said Spillane.

Christie won’t have the support of the major leagues anytime soon, but his speech did garner the support of at least a few of the lawmakers in attendance.

“We know what we have in our states and what we can do,” said Ohio Republican Sen. William Coley II. “Legislators in Utah know what people in Utah want, lawmakers in New Jersey know what works best for them. We don’t want federal oversight.”

“I can see a tremendous money grab from the feds on this,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. Ronnie Johns.