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Why states shouldn't cash in on Super Bowl odds

A federal court case against a New Jersey law allowing sports gambling shows why betting on sports will only damage athletic competition – as well as bettors.

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Arnie Wexler, former head of New Jersey's Council on Compulsive Gambling, signs certificates last year for employees of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, who completed a training program he runs on compulsive gambling.

AP Photo

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By the half-time show of the 2013 Super Bowl game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, Americans will have gambled an estimated $10 billion on various aspects of the sports spectacle – from picking the winner to whether Alicia Keys will flub the words of the national anthem.

New Jersey would like a cut of that $10 billion and more of the money now regularly wagered privately on sporting events. Last year, the state approved a new law to start doing just that.

But on Feb. 1, the Obama administration filed a court brief to block the state action. And on Feb. 14, a federal judge will hear arguments on whether New Jersey – along with other states eager to follow its example – can be allowed to ignore a 1992 federal law against sports betting.

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