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NJ lawmakers propose betting surcharge to appease sports leagues

18th September 2014 12:18 pm GMT

Two New Jersey lawmakers have proposed a surcharge on sports bets should the state legalise sports betting, with all funds raised to be distributed to US national sports leagues for the purposes of protecting the "integrity and fairness" of games.

The surcharge of 0.25 per cent of each bet placed was proposed by New Jersey Senator Jim Whelan and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo in a letter to the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Adam Silver this week.

They said that the funds raised would be distributed to sports leagues to be used for promoting, monitoring and enforcing sporting integrity measures, and would assuage sports governing bodies’ worries about the potential legalisation of sports betting creating opportunities for corruption and match-fixing across the US leagues.

The fight against corruption has been a key argument for upholding the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) which bans sports betting in all US states aside from Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Nevada.

“While we strongly support the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey and the economic benefits it will bring to Atlantic City, we are cognizant that sports leagues like the NBA need the necessary resources to protect the integrity and fairness of games,” explained Whelan and Mazzeo in the letter.

They said that a 0.25 per cent surcharge on a $100 bet would see the bettor charged an additional 25 cents by the casino and racetrack operator, with the funds used by the NBA and other sports leagues to hire independent investigators and appoint monitoring bodies.

Whelan and Mazzeo argue that the system could even become a national model for sports betting across the US.

“When sports wagering is eventually legalized nationwide, this surcharge would generate millions of dollars a year for the leagues,” the letter continued. “Given your openness to sports betting, we hope that the NBA and other sports leagues can come to an agreement with casino and racetrack operators on the collection and distribution of this surcharge.”

The proposal comes after Silver admitted earlier this month that he believed legalised sports betting was “inevitable” as cash-strapped states looked for additional revenue sources, and that the NBA could benefit from the situation.

“It's inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada,” Silver said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York.

After vetoing a bill to repeal sports betting at New Jersey’s racetracks and casinos in August, the state’s governor Chris Christie made a surprise U-turn this month to issue a directive and file a motion in the US District Court to allow the venues to operate sports betting without the threat of criminal or civil liability.

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