New Jersey sports betting: Gov. Chris Christie responds to suit

This is a transcript of an exchange New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had with a reporter regarding the NCAA, NFL and other major sports groups filing a legal complaint against the state’s push for legalized sports betting. Some questions were inaudible.

Governor Christie: Well, listen, there was a federal law that was passed that restricts the states that can participate in sports gambling to just four states. We believe that that law is unconstitutional. We have put the question before the voters of New Jersey. The voters of New Jersey said they wanted to allow sports gambling in New Jersey. We’re moving ahead. We issued regulations to allow for the issuance of licenses for sports gambling and once we did that, the sports leagues have now sued and the battle is engaged. I have a conference call at 5 o’clock this afternoon with the Attorney General to talk to him about the next steps and the direction of the division of law, talk about the next steps that we’ll take legally to defend our position.

Question: How do you think it’s going to play out?

Governor Christie: I think we’re going to win.

Question: Will you expand on that a little?

Governor Christie: No. Winning is winning, David. You know, I think we’re going to win. Because I don’t believe the federal government has the right to decide that only certain states can have sports gambling. On what basis? And it does not acknowledge that there is illegal sports gambling going on in every state in America as we speak. And so why is this more injurious somehow than illegal sports gambling to the operations of the league or the NCAA. Listen, I don’t believe it’s up to the federal government to decide what happens within the borders of a state on this issue especially when they permit other states to do it. If there was a grand nationwide prohibition there wouldn’t be an argument, but how is it sports gambling in New Jersey is going to affect the sports leagues more than it already affects the sports leagues in Nevada. It happens every day all over the state of Nevada and three other states. I don’t understand why New Jersey would make it so much worse. So I think, ultimately, I think this is going to be found to be unconstitutional. We’re going to have a long road ahead of us with the courts but we’re prepared for the fight.

Question:(N/A)

Governor Christie: I have no idea. I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know. But if in fact it was found to be constructional. If the law was found to be unconstitutional they would have, I would think, a major hurdle to get over to pass a law that would restrict us to do it that would be constitutional. But who knows, you know if they try, I have no idea. Sports leagues have a lot of money. They spend a lot of money supporting Congress, so who knows what will happen. But my view is that it’s very difficult to make an argument that this is constitutional when you allow certain states to do it. I believe ultimately we’ll prevail but you know we’ll see what happens. That’s what the courts are for.

Question:(N/A)

Governor Christie: Are you concerned they’re going to pull the Superbowl? I’m not. We’re well along the way us and New York in terms of planning the Superbowl and I have no concerns. Have I gotten any direct assurances from Commissioner Goodell? No I haven’t. But I saw him last week or two weeks ago when I was in Idaho. He certainly didn’t raise the issues with me in our conversation about pulling the Superbowl so I think we’ll be fine. I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We’ll prepare for the Superbowl. We’ll do a great job with the Superbowl and we’ll have our separate legal fight over whether or not sports gambling should be legal in more than four states in the United States.

Question: Before the Superbowl did you know you were going to push sports gambling or did you sit on it until after…

Governor Christie: I think there was discussion well before that by Senator Lesniak and others about sports gambling and I think I always took the position that I thought it needed to go to referendum so we could hear from the public as to whether they supported it or not. So, you know, Terry, I can’t remember all the dates but it seems we’ve been talking about this issue since the gubernatorial campaign in 2009. No I don’t think there was any…you’ll have to find the bait and switch on this one but I don’t think there is.

Transcript courtesy of Michael Drewniak, Press Secretary to NJ Governor Chris Christie.

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