One of the state’s top lawmakers is rallying opposition to the National Football League’s call for a so-called integrity fee on sports betting.Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-3rd District, sent a letter to 50 governors Monday, urging them to reject what he called an “extortion attempt” by the NFL. He noted the $10 million legal battle to have sports betting legalized enjoyed bipartisan support during its arduous six-year course.
“New Jersey is finally able to carry out the will of its people by permitting sports wagering by adults,” Sweeney said. “Now that [NFL efforts to fight sports betting] have been ultimately unsuccessful, they wish themselves to make the fast buck [and] get something for nothing.”
In a related move, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said recently he wants Congress to pass a federal law regulating sports betting, in order to “protect the integrity of the sport.”
“Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field,” Goodell said. “This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.”
Sweeney noted there has never been an “integrity fee” – facilitated by a tax law, potentially involving Congress – for sports betting in Nevada, where it long has been legal.
“Their demand begs the question of what they would start doing now to preserve the integrity of the games that they have not been doing for years,” Sweeney said.
A recent 6-3 decision in the United State Supreme Court struck down the 1992 federal law that had banned sports betting in most states. Since then, states across the country, including New Jersey, have rushed to set up their own industries.
Sweeney said no sports betting will be allowed in New Jersey until the state government enacts legislation laying a framework for such operations, possibly in June.