‘Why Not?’ Former Gov. Christie Backs Election Betting In New Jersey

Written By Martin Derbyshire on October 16, 2019

New Jersey gaming regulators have already sanctioned betting on the Oscars and Emmys in 2019. Could a federal or state election be next?

Speaking to reporters following his keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas on Tuesday, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he doesn’t see why not.

“Why not? I mean, I don’t see any reason why not. It’s something, again, it goes to the core of the entertainment. If people believe it’s something that they want to put a wager on to make it more interesting for them — I don’t know how much more interesting presidential politics could be other than it is right now. But if they think betting makes it even more interesting, I don’t have any problem with that.”

From Oscars, to Emmys, to election betting?

The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) gave NJ sportsbooks the all-clear to accept wagers on the 2019 Oscars ahead of the February event. Most NJ sportsbooks posted Oscars odds, making them the first regulated US sports betting operators to take bets on the Academy Awards.

The DGE also gave NJ sportsbooks the OK to accept bets on the Emmys last month. But it is not a guarantee that Oscars betting will return in 2020, let alone elections betting.

No US gaming regulator has ever sanctioned betting on elections. However, election betting has been going on in the UK for years.

Based on that, Christie said there’s no reason it can’t happen in the legal and regulated betting markets here at home. Especially considering it’s already happening in the black market.

“You’ve seen (election betting) go on in Great Britain for a long time,” he said. “I don’t see the reason why, again, if the regulators believe that they can handle it in a way that’s appropriate, people are doing this stuff anyway.

“This is the joke of this: People are betting on presidential elections; people are betting on the Oscars. They have office pools and all the rest of this stuff. So, this stuff is all going on anyway and if you want to make it (available) in a broader, more regulated market, I don’t see a problem with it.”

Oscars betting was not without its issues

But is betting on the elections something the DGE would, in fact, allow? Indeed, before DraftKings Sportsbook or any other site can offer those odds, the DGE must approve the event. This is similar to what regulators did before Oscars odds were on the board earlier this year.

In February, bets on the Oscars were only available at a few NJ sports betting sites before expanding to almost all of the apps. There were also fluctuations in the categories allowed or included in the betting.

Additionally, a huge swing in the Oscars odds for Best Director just before the awards show raised eyebrows in the betting community. In the end, the concern resulted in nothing more than the original favorite, Alfonso Cuaron, to win the Oscar.

Even so, the DGE said that it was not going to commit to betting on the Oscars in the future. 2019 was, in its own way, a trial run.

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Christie, NJ sports betting and elections

Christie served as NJ’s governor from 2010 to 2018. He has been widely lauded for his role in New Jersey’s successful effort to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

Earlier this year, Christie was inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame based on his efforts. He has been a vocal proponent of sports betting for years.

In 2015, Christie announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election. He dropped out of the race in February 2016 and later endorsed President Donald Trump. Christie also headed Trump’s transition planning team.

He left the governor’s office in January 2018 at the end of his second term after reaching the state’s eight-year term-limit. The legal NJ sports betting market launched just five months later.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than 10 years of experience reporting on the online poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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