JERSEY CITY, New Jersey — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says a call from the National Basketball Association commissioner to join him in lobbying Congress to legalize sports betting across the nation is a "bait and switch"
Christie said during a televised interview Monday night that it was "kind of crazy" for NBA commissioner Adam Silver to ask him to help with a legalization push when Silver is part of a lawsuit blocking sports betting in his state.
"I think it's kind of crazy for the commissioner of the NBA to say, on one hand, 'Join me governor, let's have legalized sports gaming everywhere. But not in New Jersey right now,'" Christie said.
"What I call it, quite frankly," he added, "is a bait and switch."
Silver supports overturning the federal statute that prohibits most states from authorizing sports betting. He repeated his position during a podcast interview that aired Monday on ESPN.
"Gov. Christie, and I'm happy to join him, should turn his attention to Washington, D.C., to Congress, and say, 'Here are all the reasons it should be regulated,'" Silver said.
"But let's come up with a framework that makes sense on a national basis, presumably that would allow states to opt in," he continued, pressing the need for consistency from state to state.
But Christie rejected the premise.
"If Adam Silver believes that sports gaming is OK then allow sports gaming in New Jersey, allow us to be the model," he said.
The NBA, National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the National Collegiate Athletic Association sued Christie in 2012 to block his attempts to legalize the practice.
A federal judge has barred New Jersey from introducing sports betting at casinos and racetracks, saying it violates federal law.