New Jersey getting squeezed for gambling integrity fee


The state that successfully waged a legal battle against all sports leagues to secure for all states the ability to have gambling on all sports now has the sports leagues trying a different approach.

Yes, they want their integrity fee in New Jersey.

Via, the NBA, MLB, and PGA spent Thursday lobbying New Jersey legislators for the one-percent cut that those leagues have tried to get in other states. Baseball has enlisted (paid, presumably) former pitcher Al Leiter to assist.

It may not matter. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (pictured) calls the request for an integrity fee an effort at extortion.

“The leagues fought with all of their resources to stop states from allowing their citizens to legally wager on sports,” Sweeney recently wrote in a letter to governors and key lawmakers in all states, urging them to refuse to pay the fee. “Now that their efforts have been ultimately unsuccessful, they wish themselves to make ‘the fast buck’ and to ‘get something for nothing.’

“Essentially, the Leagues are asking to be paid to allow games to be played fairly. And their demand begs the question of what they would now start doing to preserve the integrity of their games that they have not been doing for years.”

Amen to that. And amen to this concern from Sweeney about how an integrity fee could actually harm the integrity of the sports that receive it.

“Taking the leagues at their word, giving them a ‘piece of the action,’ would make suspicions grow whenever turning-point calls in close games go in favor of the more popular team — whose presence in the ‘big game’ would drive ratings and betting,” Sweeney wrote.

Even without betting, plenty of fans think that the leagues “want” certain teams to make the playoffs and then to advance in the postseason. When the payoff isn’t simply increased ratings but increased bets from which the sports leagues receive a cut, those suspicions will grow.

The NFL continues to not be part of the state-to-state effort to secure an integrity fee. Instead, the NFL will be trying to lobby Congress for a nationwide regulatory scheme that gives the sports leagues payment under a less awkward label than “integrity fee.”

18 responses to “New Jersey getting squeezed for gambling integrity fee

  1. It’s beyond greed ! Thirty two of the richest people on the planet who do not hesitate to cry for public funding to further enhance their their own wealth to build their stadiums want now to drain a little more. Nj, like a lot of state is scrambling for $$ to pay teachers, meet pension obligations,etc. But these guys want to take more………

  2. Integrity cannot be purchased. You either have it or you don’t. Its that simple.

    I CAN understand fees paid for independent, third party audits to ensure no one on league payrolls (players, coaches, trainers, medical staff, office workers, etc) receives under the table or illegal payments to ensure fair betting. That is a legitimate integrity verification. These fees would never go the leagues; just the auditors.

  3. Actually New Jersey is discussing suing the pro sports leagues to recover the revenue lost when
    the leagues were successful at blocking sports wagering in NJ. Makes sense to me.

  4. So let me get this straight:

    The states are being asked by the leagues to pay them a fee so they can maintain that their games are legit once it becomes legal to bet on games in that state while currently there’s illegal gambling going on in those states and yet the leagues aren’t making sure that their games are legit?

    Do I have that right?

  5. didnt this have to do with the integrity of the data instead of integrity of the games?

    its the leagues data. they dont have to give you 100% accurate data for you to bet on.

    isnt that the push?

  6. Isn’t it more of a licensing fee for using team names in betting? Not sure if states are subject to the same restrictions as private parties but it looks like use of a league’s trademarks without permission if no payment is made.

  7. It’s even funnier given how the NFL (and every other league except the NBA who changed its stance when Silver became commissioner) fought tooth and nail against states being able to have gambling. Goodell is out there with his hand out saying “Give me some of that money that I tried so hard to keep you from getting.” What do you suppose the answer is going to be to that request?

  8. So if the latest lobbying for an “integrity fee” is also defeated, where does that leave the leagues, with no guarantee their product has integrity?

    Once that attempt gets squashed, the states should then turn around and sue the leagues requiring that disclaimer at the bottom of every ticket and telecast.

  9. If I was commish of a league, the first thing I would do is withhold injury information. Then only supply that information to the states that pay for it. In fact, I’d withhold any information that a gambler would want…like suspensions.

  10. Put quotes around “integrity fee” and it reads like a headline from The Onion.

    I understand the league’s view though; without some sort of compensation, their 100+ year history and branding and all that are being used for profit by people (official, licensed bookmakers) who had nothing to do with making the NFL what it is.

    The right answer though? I don’t know, that’s a tough one. I’ve dabbled, but gambling was never one of my vices, so I don’t know much about the business of it, and haven’t thought much about it.

    Perhaps the states could create special funds with the new tax revenue, and use those funds to finance the inevitable new/upgraded stadiums? The NFL gets something out of it, the taxpayer is relieved of some of their burden, and we don’t have any more awkward conversations about “integrity?” That’s the best I’ve got. Tough issue, will be interesting to see what happens.

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