NJ takes small step to legalized sports betting

Feb 24, 2009 8:18 PM
by GT Staff |

New Jersey moved a small step closer to achieving what Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana possess – legalized sports betting. Of those four, Nevada is the only state where sports wagering is conducted, though recent reports suggest Delaware is considering it to boost sagging revenues during the economic downturn. (pictured: NJ-State-House)
Now you add neighboring New Jersey to the list. Resolution, S-12, approved by a voice vote in the State Senate and sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Jeff Van Drew, would urge the United States Congress to remove the federal restriction on sports wagering established in 1993 under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The Act mandates that states which had casino gambling at the time, but hadn’t already allowed sports wagering, were given a one-year window to authorize betting. New Jersey wasn’t able to pass legislation with voter approval before the deadline lapsed.

"During our current national economic crisis, states need to look to all untapped revenue streams in order to balance the books and continue to provide the services that our citizens depend on," Lesniak said.

"Sports wagering could help plug some of the revenue holes the State is currently facing and provide new capital for investment in a wide variety of economic growth projects," he added. "Rather than allow this money to funnel down the drain into illegal gambling rings, the federal government should overturn the ban and allow for State regulation and oversight on sports betting."
"At the time Congress passed the sports wagering ban, they cited the need to protect the integrity and purity of sports contests," Van Drew said. "If anything, the ban has accomplished the opposite, pushing sports wagering underground and into the hands of organized crime, and opening up sports to potential criminal manipulation.

"I’d say that the sports wagering ban as a way to preserve the integrity of sports has been a resounding failure," he added. "It’s time that we brought sports wagering into the light of day, where it can be regulated by gaming authorities and protected from manipulation and dishonesty."
Van Drew indicated that if Delaware does legalize sports wagering, "you can count that as the death knell to an already hemorrhaging Atlantic City gaming industry."

Lesniak said in addition to urging Congress to overturn the 1993 ban on sports betting that he would be leading efforts to bring a lawsuit against the federal government to overturn the ban in court.
As a resolution reflecting the opinion of the New Jersey Senate, it will now be filed with the Secretary of Senate and a copy will be transmitted to Congress.