New Jersey Senate Panel Approves Sports Betting: Internet Gambling on Horizon?

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Sports Betting New Jersey

It is up to New Jersey voters next year to decide whether sports betting should be legalized in their state.  A New Jersey Senate panel Monday afternoon voted to allow a resolution that could lead to the introduction of legalized sports betting at Atlantic City casinos, as well as at racetracks.

Currently, federal law prohibits sports betting in most states, including New Jersey.  State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who is sponsor of the bill, is suing the federal government to try to overturn the law.  Lesniak is also seeking to have intrastate web betting on sports, poker and other forms of gambling. 

“The time has come,” Lesniak said. “Sports betting already is going on [illegally] every day in every neighborhood, and New Jersey is losing out. The money is going to organized crime.”

“This also is the prescription for the ultimate survival of the state’s horse racing industry,” said Lesniak, who would divert some sports betting revenues to replace a $30 million annual subsidy by the Atlantic City casinos to horse racing purses that is about to expire.

Former Gov. Richard Codey was the only member of the Senate Economic Growth and Tourism Committee to vote against Lesniak’s bill.

“This is putting the cart before the horse,” Codey said.

The referendum would read as follows:

This is the proposed referendum question about whether to legalize sports betting in the state:

Shall the amendment to Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the State of New Jersey, agreed to by the Legislature, providing that it shall be lawful for the Legislature to authorize by law wagering at casinos or gambling houses in Atlantic City and at current or former running and harness horse racetracks on the results of professional, certain college, or amateur sport or athletic events, be approved?

This is the accompanying interpretative statement:

A “Yes” vote on this question would allow the Legislature, when permitted by federal law, to legalize the placing of bets on certain sports events at casinos, racetracks, and former racetrack sites. Currently, federal law only permits this type of betting in Nevada and Delaware. It also occurs through illegal betting operations. If legalized in New Jersey, bets could be placed on professional, college, or amateur sports or athletic events, except that bets could not be placed on any college sports or athletic event that takes place in New Jersey or in which a New Jersey college team is playing.

Source: New Jersey Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 132

- Jagajeet Chiba,

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