(NEW YORK) — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spent more than seven years fighting for legalized sports betting in his state. Now the former governor and ABC News contributor anticipates sports betting will begin in New Jersey in just a few weeks.
He told ABC News’ Brad Mielke on the “Start Here” podcast that Monmouth Park, a horse racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey, had always pledged to be ready within two weeks after a SCOTUS decision on sports gambling.
“It seems to me by Memorial Day weekend or very soon thereafter, you’ll be able to place bets on your favorite sports teams,” he said.
New Jersey, home to several casinos along the Atlantic City boardwalk, has largely treated gambling as a bipartisan issue. Several attempts by the state to legalize sports betting were struck down in lower courts over the years.
The Supreme Court heard the case after Christie and the state of the New Jersey appealed a decision from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upholding the federal ban. When Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy took office earlier this year, he replaced Christie as lead plaintiff.
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which barred most states from taking sports bets, violated the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Christie said he always knew the Supreme Court would make the right decision because “nobody challenged it before.”
“No one had the guts to challenge it before,” he said on “Start Here.” “It felt like the federal government had spoken on this and that we had to defer. I just didn’t believe that was the case.”
The NCAA and major U.S. professional sports leagues have argued that sports betting could undermine the integrity of the games. According to Christie, the argument that government regulation could lead to crooked athletes is “silliness.”
“Somehow they’re saying that when it’s run legally and through government regulation, it risks the integrity of the game, but when betting has been run by mobsters and criminals, it doesn’t. I mean it’s ridiculous.”
On college athletes who aren’t getting paid and could be influenced, Christie argued: “Who do you think is more likely to try to bribe a kid; a state government or the mob?”
Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, LLC, operators of Monmouth Park, said in a press conference Monday he is planning to have sports betting “up and running in two weeks,” unless Murphy or the state legislature tell him otherwise.
Christie is a Dallas Cowboys fan, but he wouldn’t say if his first sports bet would be on the team. He did confirm he would be at Monmouth Park whenever the racetrack is ready to take bets.
“I don’t know who I’m going to place a bet on,” he said on “Start Here. “But I have promised the folks at Monmouth Park that on the first day that they’re taking sports betting, I will be there to place a bet, and I’m going to keep my promise.”
Listen to the full interview with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday’s edition of ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast.
“Start Here” is a daily ABC News podcast hosted by Brad Mielke featuring original reporting on stories that are driving the national conversation. Listen for FREE on the ABC News app, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio — or ask Alexa: “Play ‘Start Here.'”
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