Governor Jon Corzine Files Motion to Join Sports Betting Suit

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Jon Corzine

TRENTON - Governor Jon S. Corzine today submitted a motion to intervene in support of a lawsuit filed by Senator Ray Lesniak in March with the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association and three horse racing groups.  The lawsuit seeks to have a federal law banning sports betting in New Jersey and 45 other states declared unconstitutional.

"Today's filing sends a clear message that we will not sit back and allow the selective prohibitions of this law to deprive New Jersey from the economic benefits sports betting can generate," Governor Corzine said.  "We must do everything in our power to ensure both the casino and horse racing industries in New Jersey remain competitive, especially during the national economic recession." 

In the motion, the Governor specifically argues that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA):

1.      economically disadvantages New Jerseyans, while allowing select States, including Delaware, to collect revenues from regulated sports betting;

2.      precludes the Governor, from proposing, as a revenue option, a form of regulated gambling freely allowed in other states;

3.      precludes the voters and elected representatives of this State from determining which gambling activities should be authorized;

4.      limits the Governor's, and New Jersey's, ability to regulate sports betting activities while other states are free to do so; and

5.      subjects the State of New Jersey and its citizens to civil action should they attempt to authorize or undertake sports betting activities allowed in other jurisdictions.

Since 1992, federal law has outlawed wagering on sports except in four states, Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware.  Delaware recently took advantage of its exemption in the federal law to legalize sports betting and table games at its three horse racing facilities.

If the PASPA is declared unconstitutional, New Jersey could move to authorize sports betting.  Both the New Jersey General Assembly and State Senate have passed measures indicating their support for sports betting in New Jersey.  On February 7, 2008, the Assembly passed by a large majority a bill which would authorize certain sports betting in casinos with voter approval.  On February 23, 2009, the State Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution No. 12, urging the United States to lift the ban on sports betting.

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