Debate over the legalization of sports betting in the US is heating up in the midst of the Christie vs. the NCAA case and there are conflicting opinions on just how a bill would work. Some industry giants, including the NBA, are calling for an integrity fee, while state level senators in New Jersey have pushed back against the introduction of RAWA - the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.
While both sides continue to have their say in an effort to further their agenda, a list of big names in the gambling industry are coming out to discuss the prospects of sports betting. The most recent name to make this list is none other than Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International.
Murren has told MGM Resorts International’s investors that he fully believes that the federal ban on any kind of sport betting will be defeated this year. Speaking during a Q4 earnings call on Tuesday, the 56 year old spoke of the Supreme Court and its upcoming decision:
“If you add to that the fact that the Supreme Court will likely legalize sports betting this year, MGM is really poised to immediately take advantage of that opportunity. Sports as it relates to our performing events here and as it relates to our industry we believe is a significant avenue of growth for MGM Resorts in the future.”
MGM is no stranger to sports betting, already operating in Nevada with brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and mobile betting. It also owns Borgata in Atlantic City, giving it a potential route for offering sports gambling in New Jersey. In fact, some casinos is New Jersey have been preparing for a positive outcome in relation to sports betting by applying for online gambling permits..
If sports betting is legalised, MGM will be looking to capitalize and expand upon their current operations in Nevada and New Jersey. Many other states have been considering a sports betting bill, with Kansas and Massachusetts announcing their intent most recently, peaking the interests of operators looking to enter the US market if a bill comes to pass.
While Murren’s comments could be dismissed on the grounds of there being no definitive evidence that sports betting will be legalized this year, it’s important to remember that in this instance he’s addressing investors - a situation in which spewing empty rhetoric or telling a lie would be critically stupid.
Looking at Murren’s background could be helpful here - he is the chair of the American Gaming Association Board of Directors, the national trade association for the commercial gaming industry and was named Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association. He was even named by President Obama to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory.
This should indicate that Murren’s words are not without merit. He has excellent connections within the gambling industry and further afield, and his words will surely reaffirm and add hope to those hoping for legal sports betting across the USA. It’s very likely that Murren and MGM now believe that the odds are stacked in favour of New Jersey legalizing sports gambling.
The fact that the Supreme Court took the New Jersey sports betting case in the first place is a positive indication and increases the odds that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which currently prohibits sports betting, will be overturned. Recent revelations that americans illegally gamble billions on the Super Bowl annually will only further the pro-sports betting side’s case and should provide for further interesting arguments on the issue that could change the face of US gambling as we know it.