Jersey lawmaker wants to overturn federal ban on sports betting

Mar 13, 2009 7:26 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

A New Jersey state senator plans to file a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn a ban on sports betting in all but the four states where it’s already legalized.

Ray Lesniak of Union County says he’ll go to federal court in Newark, hoping a judge will allow sports betting across the country even though Congress won’t:

"It’s just not fair," Lesniak told a New Jersey TV station. "Our residents should have that opportunity. We should have an opportunity to get the revenues that are now going to offshore Internet companies and to organized crime."

Industry analyst Joseph Weinert, with the casino consulting firm Spectrum Gaming Group, says sports betting would help Atlantic City’s 11 casinos:

"It packs the buildings during key events. It encourages people to come in and spend the night. People bring friends with them and spend money on food, beverage, entertainment, and other casino games," he told the TV station

And although Weinert agrees that it would help in Atlantic City, he notes that it would also aid new competitors in Pennsylvania and New York:

"If those casinos have sports betting, they would be even more of a threat to the Atlantic City casinos because they would immediately adopt sports betting and make themselves bigger and better."

Lesniak, the state senator, wasn’t deterred.

"If other states benefit by what we’re doing," he said, "God bless them."

Delaware is one of the four states with Congressional authority to allow sports betting, and a bill to put it into effect is expected to be introduced there next week.

Under a grandfather clause, sports betting is also legal in Nevada and Oregon.