Most people – and especially sports fans, gamblers, state officials, and those associated with online sports betting, casinos and racetracks – are excited by the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down PASPA, the decades-old law that prohibited sports wagering outside Nevada.
Jonathon Trugman, who writes for the New York Post, is not one of those people. In an article he published on May 19, Trugman contends that, “Sports betting may not be all that good for New Jersey.”
I don’t believe this argument holds water, mainly because it’s based the notion that betting on sports is a “vice.”
Why “gambling is bad, mmmkay” isn’t a good argument
Seriously, Trugman’s argument for why sports betting isn’t good for New Jersey can be boiled down to a South Park meme. If your argument can be summed up by a meme, it’s not a good one. And while he may believe sports betting and other forms of gambling are uncouth, they are, in fact, legal. His personal opinion and morals are irrelevant to his argument, which doesn’t leave much else for him to stand behind.
In addition to constantly referring to sports betting as a “vice” or “sin” tax, Trugman also spends half the article talking about how New Jersey ranks 39th on Forbes‘ list of Best States For Business list.
Okay, Jonathon, it looks like you have a point there. New Jersey improving its business climate would undoubtedly be a good thing. But what does that fact have to do with sports betting being good or bad for NJ? Racetracks, casinos and sports betting operators are businesses too – wouldn’t they welcome an improvement to New Jersey’s business environment?
Further, why, as Trugman seems to suggest, would the presence of sports betting in New Jersey prohibit the state from trying to improve its relationship with businesses? What’s even more egregious is his claim that the revenue brought in by sports betting “will not be used to lower taxes or to entice businesses to the state.” Again, this has nothing to do with the merit of sports betting as a legitimate business in the state of New Jersey.
All this negativity comes from one place: the belief that gambling is bad, and Gerber baby food is nice and wholesome.
What sports betting will actually do for New Jersey
Alright, enough with conjecture and moral high horses. Let’s get into some facts about what sports betting can and will bring to the state of New Jersey.
Based on bill S2602, it appears New Jersey will place an 8% tax on live wagering and attach a 12.5% rate to online sports bets. Estimates vary, but the overly conservative word is that the state believes it will collect $13 million in tax revenue from sports betting during its first fiscal year. On the high side, some officials believe $50 to $100 million in tax revenue is a realistic range.
Of the revenue New Jersey stands to gain from sports betting, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said, “We never saw sports betting as a ‘game-changer’ for [our]budget.” These kinds of comments, which are echoed by other state officials, seem to be what Mr. Trugman has latched onto with reckless abandon. Logic, however, would suggest that any additional revenue is good for the state, which is, unsurprisingly, exactly what Sweeney said.
Most officials also agree that sports betting will be a boon to the state’s casinos and racetracks, and especially tourism in Atlantic City. Former state Senator Raymond Lesniak has this to say about sports betting: “It’s a huge deal. It will bring back tourism to Atlantic City that has relied on day-trippers, when a sports bettor will stay for long weekends and weeks at a time.”
Sounds like solid logic, Mr. Lesniak. I agree.
Clearly, there is more good than bad when it comes to the prospect of sports betting in New Jersey.
In closing his article with a random comment about weed shops – another vice, I’m sure – Mr. Trugman proved he’s doing nothing more than shaking his fists at the sky and condemning anything outside his narrow view of the world.
I don’t know if sports betting, on its own, can improve New Jersey’s economic environment for other businesses. What I do know is that attitudes and worldviews like Mr. Trugman’s definitely aren’t going to improve anything.
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