Assembly Approves Sports Betting Measure

October 16, 2014 | Politics, Sports
Members of the Assembly approved legislation to legalize sports betting in New Jersey.

By Briana Vannozzi

It’s expected to be the life support New Jersey’s struggling gaming industry needs — allowing sports betting in casinos and racetracks.

“Everyone recognizes the problems of Atlantic City and the racetracks. It would be an alternative source of revenue and it would lead to a tremendous amount of activity, jobs and revenue,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo.

The bill is an amended version of previous legislation. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it on the first go around citing concerns that the federal court would strike it down. In 2012 he signed into law a similar bill, but that went against a federal ban on sports betting in 46 states. The state has since found a way to circumvent it.

“What we are proposing to do today provides a vehicle for it to take place in New Jersey in an environment that frankly the state itself is not going to regulate because we’re simply saying it’s no longer against the law in racetracks or casinos,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli.

Burzichelli, one of the prime sponsors of the legislation, explains that this bill partially repeals New Jersey’s prohibitions and that the federal appeals court suggested sports wagering could take place as long as the state doesn’t sponsor, license or regulate it.

“New Jersey made an error in not preserving its right years ago and I don’t agree the federal government has the jurisdiction they claim they have,” Burzichelli said.

The move is expected to help gain back some of the 40 percent of revenue Atlantic City has lost to neighboring states.

“Everyone recognizes the problems of Atlantic City and the racetracks this would be a tremendous boost,” said Caputo.

“The people of New Jersey have spoken and they would like sports gaming to be legal in this state,” said Burzichelli.

Lawmakers say they don’t expect opposition from the NCAA and other pro sports leagues to stand in the way. If all goes well they’d like to see betting start as soon as Halloween.

“I think Monmouth Park is ready to go. They have a partnership in place as I understand it. I think you could see it happen very quickly,” Burzichelli said.

The bill could land on Christie’s desk as early as Friday. The governor’s office had no comment today on the passage of the legislation. Lawmakers say they made the changes Christie requested and would hope that indicates support. The governor now has 45 days to decide whether he’ll veto or approve.