Dennis Drazin

Report: New Jersey Racetrack CEO Spitting Hot Fire at NBA, MLB

The sports and gambling worlds are still waiting for the United States Supreme Court to come down with its ruling on PASPA, but most expect the decision to be in favor of New Jersey, thus opening the door for states to legalize sports betting. In the meantime, the professional sports leagues have been trying to position themselves to best take advantage of the new era in U.S. sports betting, and I have not been shy with the criticism of what they have been trying to do. I was happy to learn today that the CEO of one New Jersey horse racetrack is calling the leagues out on their bullshit, just like I have.

The report comes from the good folks at Legal Sports Report, who spoke with Dennis Drazin, the CEO of the company that operates the Monmouth Park racetrack. He let the leagues – and the NBA and MLB in particular – have it for trying to get state lawmakers to agree to an “integrity fee” in any new sports betting legislation.

Before we move forward, let’s go back for a moment. PASPA is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which made sports betting illegal in the United States except in four states that were grandfathered in: Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware. If you didn’t realize that other states besides Nevada had sports betting, don’t worry – Nevada is the only one with traditional, odds-based, single-event wagering. For years now, New Jersey has attempted to legalize sports betting on its own, even seeing a referendum passed by statewide vote, but every time it has tried, the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and NCAA have taken legal action to stop it. But New Jersey actually got the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case last year and it is widely expected that not only will SCOTUS reveal its decision soon, but that it will be in favor of New Jersey and perhaps be a full repeal of PASPA.

Seeing the writing on the wall, the NBA and MLB have met with lawmakers in some states and even spoken at hearings, trying to get potential sports betting laws molded to their liking. Of note is an “integrity fee” they want to have imposed, which would charge sports books one percent of all wagers placed and give that money to the leagues. Supposedly the money would be to pay for efforts to make sure the “integrity of the games” aren’t besmirched, or whatever the horseshit line of the day is, but it’s really a money grab. It would also hurt the sports books immensely, as the fee is on wagers placed, not profits. That one percent translates to about 20-25 percent profit being erased. And all that is before expenses.

Back to Mr. Drazin, he sees right through the leagues’ disingenuousness and was not afraid to let loose in his e-mail to Legal Sports Report.

“The leagues have many self-inflicted integrity concerns, but NJ should not provide them an opportunity to receive revenue in the form of an integrity fee to police their games when they have the same obligation given the enormous illegal market which already exists,” he said.

“Do they really think it costs more to preserve integrity in a legal regulated environment or is it just an attempt to get a revenue share?”

It’s the latter. The leagues want money and they see the specter of sports betting as a way to do it. Never mind the fact that sports betting drives a truckload of revenue to the leagues every year through increased interest in the sports. Imagine if sports betting and fantasy sports didn’t exist. Does anyone really think that the leagues would come close to the viewership and in turn, the converted fans they get right now? Of course not.

Drazin continued to put the leagues on blast in his e-mail to Legal Sports Report, saying, “As for the integrity fee, the leagues have some nerve trying to get an integrity fee or disguised revenue share after they anticipate a loss after fighting us for 6 years in court and costing us a combined 9 million dollars in legal fees.”

He was feeling it: “I have an idea… perhaps the leagues should pay damages to bettors to recoup losses when they blow a call in a game and officially admit the mistake. Example: Cleveland vs. Indiana playoff game where refs blew the LeBron James goaltending call and the next day, the NBA officially announced the refs blew the call. Just a thought. Look up how many times the leagues admit the next day that the refs made a mistake.

Holy shit. That’s a straight-up “fuck you” to the leagues. For clarification, Drazin is talking about Game 5 of the first round NBA playoff series between Cleveland and Indiana, when the series was tied two games apiece. The game was tied 95-95 with 3.3 seconds left when Indian’s Victor Oladipo went up for a layup, only to have it blocked by LeBron James after the ball hit the backboard. That should have been goaltending, awarding two points to Indiana, but the refs missed the call, later admitting it after the game (and a customary review of the final two minutes). James went on to hit a three-pointer with no time left to win the game and Cleveland ended up winning the series, four games to three.

Drazin said that a bill is currently being worked on in the state legislature to legalize sports betting should PASPA be deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.


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