Atlantic City wants to
revisit sports betting

Jan 9, 2007 4:00 AM

Under threat of new casinos opening in Pennsylvania, the idea of allowing sports betting in Atlantic City is again on the table.

Thus, State Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew is pushing for a referendum to bring sports betting to the resort town.

Such a move, though, would probably take an act of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo is in favor of allowing wagers on sporting events in Atlantic City. Jason Galanes, a spokesperson for LoBiondo, said last week that the congressman is supportive of bringing sports betting to Atlantic City and would pursue the necessary legislative action in Congress — that is, if the state would act first and "if they are serious about it."

Van Drew is very serious about it. He introduced a bill last January that would have placed a sports-betting referendum on the ballot this past November. Van Drew said the bill is important to the city and to the region because the revenue generators of the future are in "shopping, retail and expanding tourism gambling."

"(Sports betting) brings in another type of gambler, another type of customer, someone who is not only trying to gamble, but also to shop, dine and go to shows," Van Drew said Friday. "It is extremely crucial for everyone to understand that the future of Atlantic City is not in slot machines."

The bill was approved in February by the Assembly’s Tourism and Gaming Committee, of which Van Drew is chairman. However, the bill failed to make it out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill has been opposed by state Sen. Bill Gormley and Assemblyman Frank Blee, both R-Atlantic.