New Jersey has campaigned for a number of years to get the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 overturned which would then allow the Garden State to offer sports betting services. Major leagues such as the National Basketball League (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL), National Football League (NFL) and the NCAA have opposed New Jersey’s push to overturn PASPA for a number of years.
The Supreme Court is set to hear New Jersey’s case to get the PASPA ruling overturned next week and the sports leagues will continue to oppose New Jersey in court. However some of the leagues have made it clear this year that they are now a lot more open to legalized sports betting and will not be very disappointed if the Supreme Court decides to rule in favour of New Jersey.
Sports Leagues – Previous Stance
These major sports leagues started opposing New Jersey back in 2012 and were adamant that sports betting would have a negative impact on sports as it would encourage match fixing and tarnish the reputation of the leagues.
The former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and NBA Commissioner David Stern were two of the biggest opponents against sports betting legalization and had labelled it as a virus that would destroy the sport and create doubt amongst fans. They had reason to be suspicious and wary over sports betting because during their time, the leagues had been hit with match fixing allegations.
Popular sports such as soccer, tennis and cricket have also been tarnished during the past few years by match fixing allegations. Players and match officials in all three sports have had their reputation tainted for taking bribes in order to fix games. This is one of the main reasons why US sports leagues are cautious about sports betting because they feel it would provide bookies an opportunity to approach their players and franchise to throw games by offering them more money.
AGA Counter Argument  
While those concerns are legitimate, sports betting campaigners such as the American Gaming Association (AGA) have pointed out that there currently exists an illegal sports betting market in the United States that generates nearly $147 billion in revenue each year and the possibility of bookies approaching players and leagues already exists.
Legalizing sports betting would significantly reduce that risk because online betting operators will have in place software and regulations to monitor any suspicious betting activity and will be able to report the same to gaming regulators. By putting in place robust sports betting regulations, the game will not only be protected and fans will have a safe and legal sports betting opportunity to bet on their favourite teams and players.
The AGA also pointed out that the leagues have softened their stance on opposing sports betting under new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who have admitted that the leagues will have to take a fresh look at sports betting considering how things have changed in recent years.
The NFL has agreed to relocate the Oakland Raiders to a new multi-billion dollar stadium in Las Vegas while the NHL became the first sporting league to approve a franchise in Las Vegas – the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
In a statement, Geoff Freeman, CEO of the AGA said “I think there are multiple signs of the sports leagues, including the NFL, taking a fresh look at this issue. You don’t place a team in Nevada, in Las Vegas, without an understanding that the issue is changing. Frankly, you don’t play games in Wembley Stadium, where most of the people in the stands are betting on their phones during the game, without an understanding that things are changing”
Sports League – Current Stance
While the major sporting leagues continue to fight against the legalization of sports betting, they realize that the Supreme Court could end up ruling in favour of New Jersey and that would mean a number of other states would soon follow in New Jersey’s footsteps.
So the major sporting leagues are preparing for the possibility of having to deal with legalized sports betting. Their biggest concern as of now is to ensure that gaming regulators put in place robust sports betting regulations that will ensure the sport is not compromised and sports betting can take place without tarnishing the sport.

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