There's nothing more immoral about it than betting on the stock market. Nothing more criminal than cashing in on your fantasy league's pot of cash.
The reality is that people want to bet on games and will do so whether it's legal or not. And if there is ever an attempt to fix a game, it's going to be discovered first by the legal bookies in this city that track every dollar on every game and know before anyone that something fishy is going on.
“It defies common sense that somehow the leagues are better off and the world is a better place where hundreds of billions are being wagered illegally,” said Joe Asher, who runs United States operations for the British betting house William Hill. “The idea that it is of benefit to a league when their fans are wagering with criminals rather than having a system where sports betting is regulated and run by honorable people who have undergone thorough investigations is ridiculous.”
Don't tell that to NBA Commissioner David Stern, who seemed nearly apoplectic when asked in his deposition on how legal betting in New Jersey could hurt his league.
“The one thing I'm certain of is New Jersey has no idea what it's doing and doesn't care because all it's interested in is making a buck or two, and they don't care that it's at our potential loss,” Stern said.
Just what that loss would be is hard to understand. If anything, major sports leagues — the NFL in particular — have benefited from legal sports betting, with the betting line always a prominent part of any discussion leading up to a big game. It's part of the fabric of big-time sports, and without it we'd never know that Alabama is a 9.5-point favorite over Notre Dame in the BCS game.
Still, allowing legal betting in New Jersey would be a game changer. It would give millions of fans easy access to the betting counter in an area of the country where the passion for sports runs deep and remove much of the stigma still attached to an industry that grew up on the fringe of respectability.
It will also make some people a lot of money. Legal sports book operators would surely profit, as would New Jersey in the taxes it collects on the bets.
About the only ones who won't make money are the leagues themselves, at least not directly. Unlike almost everything else they're involved with, they won't get a cut of the action.
That means millions — and potentially billions — of dollars going into someone else's pockets.
And maybe that's the real reason why they protest so loud.