Steve Sweeney’s Proposed Bill Raising Controversies among New Jersey’s Casino Operators

Despite winning last week’s case on legalizing sports betting among US member states, New Jersey Casino operators are yet again facing a potential threat from the proposed legislation by Steve Sweeney.

Sweeney’s proposed Senate bill prevents anyone in the leagues from accepting sports wagers. In his analogy, the integrity of the game is at stake.


“By separating team owners from sportsbook operators, the game’s integrity is sure to remain. And for this reason, we must press hard for a distinction between the two,” Sweeney argues.

Steve Sweeney is the Senate president and a move by him is sure to attract a large margin of support. His latest remarks against leagues lobbying lawmakers for the addition of an integrity fee to secure the game is sparking major reactions, and most argue that it’s an attempt by the state to establish a robust sports betting framework.

The state’s lawmaker feels that the only way to maintain peace is by eliminating the conflict of interest and competing loyalties among those directly engaged in the sports events. This idea contradicts the concept of “team owner” in the casino scene.

For the longest time, Casino operators have held shares in some of the major leagues. A good example would be MGM Resorts International who owns WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces and Borgata. Joshua Harris who is a co-founder of Apollo Capital Management, the company that currently runs Caesars, and he also has his pockets in two major leagues – New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers.

With such scenarios in play, it is very easy for sportsbooks ran under the two establishments to have some unfairness when sports wagers are made against their teams. That is why the NJ Senate president is looking to level the ground.

The two bigwigs will now have to forgo their initial plans of opening sportsbooks in New Jersey until a decision has been determined.

What MGM and Caesars are hoping for is an outcome like that of Las Vegas. Currently, the gaming mecca enjoys a candid atmosphere for sportsbook among casinos operators that own teams. Such operators are only restricted from accepting bets on their associated teams.

The bill is currently before New Jersey Assembly. Steve Sweeney is also receiving backup from the assembly’s speaker, Craig Coughlin. Together, the two are looking to pass the Bill in both houses by the start of June.

Casino operators are neither backing down. Some have begun talks with other legislators in attempts to buy their vote. The casino operators are looking to remove the bill’s incentives or soften the language at play for their gain.

What remains true is that the bill will have some game integrity measures put in place. How it will play remains unclear.

As New Jersey tries to navigate these legislative hurdles in streamlining sports betting, other states are keeping an eye on how things will unfold. Most likely, whatever bill goes through, it is likely to be the blueprint for other entities that bring forward legislation.

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