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New Jersey vs. Delaware in Race for Sports Betting

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/15/2009

Neighboring states New Jersey and Delaware are racing to legalize sports betting with New Jersey focusing more on the Web element, enhanced through its teaming up with the powerful trade organization, the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association.  For that state it's more a race against time.

New Delaware laws allowing sports betting and table games such as craps and roulette could trigger changes for New Jersey's gaming industry, the leader of a harness racing horsemen's association said Thursday.

From the Asbury Park Press:

The added competition from Delaware for gambling dollars creates incentive for New Jersey's casinos to partner with racetracks to offer slots gambling outside Atlantic City, said Thomas Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey.

Delaware became the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow betting on sports after legislation was signed Thursday. Officials say they expect to have sports betting running in three months and table games in play in no more than six months.

Luchento said New Jersey's best bet to sustain its gambling industry against increased competition from Delaware and other nearby states is to allow for slots betting at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, where shared proceeds could boost both the racetracks and the casinos.

"It would be a win-win for the state, and I think with Atlantic City in a slump right now and other states turning up the pressure, it's the perfect storm for all the parties involved here to come together on putting slots at the Meadowlands," Luchento said.

The Asbury Park Press points out that New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine has not expressed support for such proposals.  It is widely believed, however, that the Governor can be persuaded, especially with New  Jersey's economy in shambles. 

iMEGA.org is challenging the Federal law that prohibits the expansion of sports wagering to all but four states. iMEGA is joined in its suit by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, The Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey, the Standardbred Breeder & Owners Association of New Jersey and New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union).

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1991 (PASPA) prohibits any state - except for Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon - from permitting legal forms of sports wagering of any kind. The four states that had legal sports wagering at the time the law was passed were grandfathered in, and the other 46 states were given only one year in which to pass their own legislation or be forever barred from any attempt at offering a legal, regulated alternative to underground sports betting.

The suit filed against the federal government claims that PASPA violates five amendments to the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against the people of New Jersey and by regulating a matter that should be reserved to the states.

"It makes sense to take this huge underground national marketplace, estimated at more than $360 billion annually and bring it out into the light of day," said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman and CEO of iMEGA. "By offereing legal, regulated alternatives in sports wagering, the state can guard against criminal elements attempting to use their money to influence the outcome of games. We can protect the integrity of the games."

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher 

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