Thom Loverro: New Jersey betting on winning legal battle over gambling by next year's Super Bowl

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Sports,NFL,Thom Loverro

Last week in New Orleans, NFL officials announced locations for parties and other events in New Jersey for next year's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium as the Garden State hopes to reap the rewards of America's toga party.

"Hosting the big game on February 2 and its many celebratory lead-up events during Super Bowl week is a major win for the state, its tourism and economic developments," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement.

What you didn't hear from either the NFL or Christie were the locations for the sports books where you will be able to bet legally on the game.

New Jersey state Sen. Raymond Lesniak has established strong odds that you indeed will be able to place bets on the game and make all the prop bets that go along with the event as part of the Super Bowl experience there.

In fact, he believes you may be placing bets in Jersey by March.

"I'm hoping for betting on March Madness, but that's a tight time frame," Lesniak said.

That this year's game took place in the heart of Bountygate territory will be nothing compared to the awkward embarrassment Goodell and the NFL will face if their parties and other events are just a short drive -- or closer -- from sports books.

One of the scheduled events will be the NFL's pregame party. It will be next to the stadium inside the grandstand of Meadowlands Racetrack -- one of the possible locations for a sports book.

New Jersey finally may be the place where the 1992 federal ban against legalized sports betting in states not grandfathered in gets overturned in court.

Last year Christie signed a bill legalizing sports betting that was sponsored by Lesniak, one of the leading proponents of the move to expand gambling in New Jersey.

The NFL, along with the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NCAA and the NHL, are all suing to stop it, and on Friday the Justice Department filed a brief with the court defending the constitutionality of the federal law.

The case is scheduled to be heard Feb. 14 in Trenton.

The Justice Department's intervention certainly makes New Jersey's fight tougher. But Lesniak believes the stakes already have been raised for his state because of a struggling economy -- hit hard by the damage from Hurricane Sandy.

"The economic impact of Sandy just made a bad situation for our casinos and racetracks worse, but even without Sandy, they're both on a decline that will continue without sports betting," Lesniak said.

Sports betting revenue would add to the financial boon for the state from hosting the Super Bowl. A record $98.9 million was wagered at Nevada casinos on the Super Bowl, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported.

"For a state that has the worst economic recovery record in the nation, it's a big deal," Lesniak said.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner