New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie and state lawmakers are calling the NCAA’s decision to pull five championship games from the state in protest of a new sports betting law “ludicrous and hypocritical.”
The NCAA, which forbids sports betting in states that host its championship games, says illegal and legal wagering on games harms college athletes, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer
But even though gambling on sports is legal in New Jersey, the constitutional amendment that allows sports betting forbids placing wagers on college teams or any college game played in the state.
"The NCAA wants to penalize New Jersey for responsibly legalizing what occurs illegally every day in every state and often with the participation of organized crime," said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.
Democratic State Sen. Raymond Lesniak agreed that New Jersey was acting responsibly on sports gambling.
"The NCAA continually ignores the billions of dollars wagered illegally every year," he said Tuesday. "In New Jersey we're moving that betting from the back rooms where organized crime controls the books, to out in the open where it can be carefully regulated and monitored.
"The NCAA and the professional leagues can yell all they want about 'the integrity of sports,' but until they embrace policies to wipe out the illegal books, those are just words," Lesniak added.
Sports betting is prohibited by federal law in all but four states; Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware.
But New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment last year that allows sports wagering at Atlantic City casinos and the state's four horse racing tracks.
Lawmakers, in a rare bipartisan vote, approved it and Christie signed it into law last January.
The NCAA pullout, which followed the publication Monday of the state's new sports betting rules, affects men's and women's swimming and diving competitions, women's basketball and lacrosse playoffs, and men's volleyball championships. All were scheduled to be held next year in New Jersey.
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