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How Chris Christie Might Bring Sports Betting to Indiana

Indiana casinos say they're interested in offering sports books if New Jersey wins Supreme Court challenge to gambling ban

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A New Jersey case in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday could open the door for you to bet on the Colts or the Boilermakers.

Congress passed a law in 1992 banning sports betting in the 46 states that didn't already have it. New Jersey legislators and voters defied that ban and approved a referendum to legalize sportsbooks. When the NCAA and the four pro sports leagues successfully blocked that effort in court, Governor Chris Christie carried the state's challenge to the law all the way to the Supreme Court,which heard arguments Monday on whether the ban is an unconstitutional intrusion on states' rights.

If the law is thrown out, Casino Association of Indiana president Matt Bell says Indiana casinos would have "significant interest" in offering sports wagering. Bell says customers have made clear they want that option. He says the benefit to casinos isn't so much the money they'd make on the sports bets themselves -- he says legal sportsbooks' profit margin is only about 4% of the total amount bet. Rather, he says sports betting is a significant draw to bring in new customers, and have them stay, and spend, longer.

And while the sports leagues have traditionally warned against gambling corrupting their games, Bell argues legal gambling actually helps preserve the games' integrity. He says several point-shaving scandals came to light because legal oddsmakers spotted unusual betting patterns.

Bell says there's interest in the legislature in allowing sports betting if the Supreme Court allows it, but he's not predicting whether there's enough to pass it. He notes legislators have historically been reluctant to expand gambling in Indiana. And he says the staunch opposition of the NCAA, whose headquarters is two blocks from the statehouse, may complicate legalization efforts.

(Photo: Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire-Getty Images)

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