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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.

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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