Following a New Jersey Mob bust tied to offshore Internet gambling on Wednesday, State Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak called on Governor Chris Christie to embrace his bill to legalize Web gambling in the state, including sports betting.
Lesniak claims that organized crime currently holds a monopoly on sports betting in the state.
“Under the current laws, organized crime has a virtual monopoly on sports book, and they’re using offshore internet operators to bring their business into the 21st century,” said Lesniak, D-Union, and sponsor of bills to mainstream internet wagering and sports wagering. “This case represents everything that’s wrong about our current policy regarding internet wagering and sports wagering. The Governor should support legislation to legitimize internet gaming, and support the legal challenge to the federal ban on sports betting, in order to give our casinos access to new revenue streams and drag currently illegal gaming practices into the light of government regulation.”
Christie’s initial support for Lesniak’s measure appears to be waning in recent weeks with suggestions that the Governor may be distancing himself from the hot button topic for political reasons. Christie is on the short list of potential GOP Vice Presidential candidates.
New Jersey authorities allege that 13 individuals rounded up Wednesday had ties to a multi-billion dollar Internet sports betting business being run out of San Jose, Costa Rica. $2.2 billion in bets were taken over the past 16 months, according to the complaint. Payouts and collections are alleged to have been made on New Jersey soil via agents.
Lesniak has previously suggested that the Internet gambling industry should come under government regulation as a means of eradicating criminal operations.
“We should not be forfeiting these funds to organized crime and offshore betting operations,” said Lesniak. “By providing a legal avenue for New Jersey residents to engage in sports wagering or Internet gaming, we would be able to take a funding source away from organized crime and channel it to economic output for our ailing gaming industry and funding for programs for seniors and people living with disabilities. I hope the Governor recognizes [Tuesday]’s bust as a wake up call, and joins in our efforts to diversify gaming and take some of the power out of mafia-operated illegal gaming rings in the Garden State.”
- Aaron Goldstein, Gambling911.com