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NCAA Wrong Again Says NJ Senator [AUDIO]

New Jersey is not backing away from its legal fight to overturn a federal ban on sports betting, but now the NCAA is firing back.

Chris Trotman, Getty Images

As payback, the NCAA is pulling five national and regional championship tournaments scheduled to be held in New Jersey in 2013. The Garden State’s leading advocate for legalized sports wagering says, once again the NCAA is wrong on many different levels.

State Senator Ray Lesniak predicts sports wagering will be legal in New Jersey early next year and he points out, “Our law prohibits betting on any (college) team located in New Jersey and any game played in New Jersey….By pulling out these events our residents will now be able to place bets on those teams as long as there’s not a New Jersey school in it.”

“This is typical NCAA. They don’t always think straight and it’s certainly of no detriment to the State of New Jersey……When sports wagering is legalized next year, the revenue New Jersey will generate from one weekend of sports betting will dwarf what the tournaments would have produced.”

Some could argue that the Senator may have point because most of the events being relocated are very attractive to the typical gambler. The tournaments are: Division I Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Diving Regionals (Piscataway, March 14-17), Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, Trenton Regional (Trenton, March 30-April 2), Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship (Hoboken, April 26-28) and the Division II and III Women’s Lacrosse Championships (Montclair, May 18-19).

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D) added, “The NCAA is only going to allow championship games in places where gambling is taking place illegally. This is the biggest boon to organized criminal activity since Prohibition.”

“Maintaining the integrity of sports and protecting student-athlete well-being are at the bedrock of the NCAA’s mission, and are reflected in our policies prohibiting the hosting of our championships in states that provide for single game sports wagering,” says Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances. “Consistent with our policies and beliefs, the law in New Jersey requires that we no longer host championships in the state.”

“The NCAA continually ignores the billions of dollars wagered illegally every year,” says Lesniak. “In New Jersey, we’re moving that betting from the backrooms where organized crime controls the books to out in the open, where it can be carefully regulated and monitored. The NCAA and the professional leagues can yell all they want about ‘the integrity of sports,’ but until they embrace policies to wipe out the illegal books, those are just words.”

Lesniak also thinks the NCAA is creating a problem for itself.

He says, “When the federal ban on sports betting is declared unconstitutional, other states will undoubtedly follow New Jersey’s lead. Then, the only place the NCAA will be able to have its championships played will be Utah.”

The NCAA, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League are suing to block New Jersey’s sports betting law from taking effect.

New Jersey’s lawsuit to overturn the federal ban on sports betting is still in what Lesniak calls, “The lawyering stage.”

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