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Lesniak to Introduce Sports Betting Bill in NJ Despite Court Losses

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
May/19/2014
Lesniak to Introduce Sports Betting Bill in NJ Despite Court Losses

State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) announced plans to unveil new legislation that would permit legalized sports betting at the state’s racetracks and casinos, threatening to call the bluff of the federal government regarding sports wagering.

John Brennan of the North Bergen Record reported that Lesniak, who spearheaded efforts to legalize Web gambling in the Garden State, announced his intentions during Monday’s East Coast Gaming Conference in Atlantic City.

He said he will move forward on introducing the bill in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the state’s case. A decision to hear the case is expected by June but Lesniak already knows the odds are stacked against this happening.

“The overall odds on the Supreme Court taking appeals is not good,” he told the Newark Star Ledger back in February at the time of the filing.  “It’s about 10 percent.  I think they’re going to take the case because of it’s of great magnitude — of social issues that have been on the front burner of the Supreme Court in recent years.”

He appeared a tad more optimistic at Monday's Conference.

“Right now, book your hotel room [in Atlantic City]] for the Super Bowl next year and the NCAA Final Four, because you won’t be able to get one,” Lesniak declared. “We are going to have sports betting in New Jersey next year. Go to the bank on it, because if the [Supreme Court takes the case], it will be overturned.

“And if it isn’t, it’s the position of the Justice Department in their briefs that they are not stopping states,” but telling those states they’re free to stop preventing such betting without officially sponsoring it, he added. “I have legislation being drafted, and that will be introduced, to allow casinos and racetracks to have sports betting on our premises. We just won’t be able to regulate it. We pushed the envelope with internet gaming, and we will push the envelope on sports betting. And we are not going to be deterred.”

The US Department of Justice and four professional sports leagues are fighting to defend the Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) that bars state-sponsored betting in all but four states, including Nevada where betting on sports is a lucrative business.

The U.S. District Court and Third Circuit Court of Appeals have already ruled against New Jersey's attempt at legalizing sports betting.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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