Sun Editorial: Don’t bet on politician’s common sense

Lawmakers from both parties in New Jersey support efforts to allow the state to offer legal sports. But the feds? Not so much.

By Alan Bauer
The Sun

The problem with politicians — OK, one of the problems — is a lack of common sense — at least at times.

Let’s take sports gambling as an example. Politicians will bemoan a lack of funds to run government — and then raise your taxes — while, at the same time, ignoring a $150 billion pile of money. That’s the amount the American Gaming Association says is spent every year on illegal sports gambling. That’s money that could be spent in a legal wagering system that generates tax revenue, jobs, etc.

Not all politicians are to blame here. Gov. Christie and lawmakers from both parties in New Jersey support efforts to allow the state to offer legal sports betting. They have for years, especially since 64 percent of voters supported the notion in 2011.

But the feds? Not so much. They, including the Trump administration, are clinging to a 1992 law that limits sports betting to four states, with Nevada really the only one to fully implement it.

Why the opposition? Who knows the real reasons? Do off-shore betting sites have great congressional lobbyists?

Americans gamble on sports — $10.4 billion this year on March Madness alone, according to the AGA. And we know 97 or so percent of those dollars were wagered through overseas betting sites or bookies, generating exactly zero tax dollars, jobs or boosts to local economies here in America.

The U.S. Supreme Court is thinking about allowing New Jersey to argue its case for legalization.If the court gives the state the go-ahead to legalize sports wagering, the governor says a system could be in place in a matter of weeks or months.

Even better, Congress could support N.J. Congressman Frank Pallone’s efforts to repeal the federal ban, thereby allowing states to decide the matter.

Either way, it’s time for common sense to prevail. Stop raising taxes while ignoring the hundreds of billions of dollars lining the pockets of overseas sports betting sites