January 5th, 2011 | Published in Casino News
Federal law bars sports betting in most states, including New Jersey. However, new legislation may allow for the introduction of sports betting at casinos in Atlantic City. The New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak is suing the federal government in an attempt to overturn the law. However, Governor Christie refused to support the lawsuit refuting that it is pointless while sports betting continues to be illegal.
An Amendment to the New Jersey Constitution
Lesniak hopes to see a referendum on the ballet in November 2011 that would allow them to amend the New Jersey constitution to add sports betting. Since this has been introduced, the State Senate has voted to approve horse racing and casino bills that were passed out of the committee.
One bill would allow for exchange wagering which is a form of betting in which two or more individuals place opposing wagers on the outcome of a race. This is a common form of betting in Europe. Another bill aims to expedite the erection of off-track wagering facilities.
An additional bill is attempting to reduce the number of standard horse races per year from 141 to 100. The final bill created a pilot program that would increase the minimum number of hotel rooms from 200 to 500. The objective of this legislation is to attract the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to Atlantic City.
Illegal Sports Betting
Lesniak encountered plenty of resistance to allow sports betting to expand beyond the city limits of Atlantic City. Lesniak countered this idea by raising the issue of illegal sports betting that occurs everywhere, regardless of the law. As a result, this money is getting in the hands of organized crime. Also, this legislation would replace a $30 million annual subsidy from Atlantic City casinos to horse racing.
The Passage of the Bill
Despite the opposition by many and a federal prohibition of sports betting outside of Delaware, Nevada, Oregon and Montana, the bill proceeded as planned. The ban was enacted in 1992 in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This limited betting on sports to only horse races and jai alai in the State of New Jersey. The state was granted one year after the law was passed but did not approve it.
This is an excellent way for New Jersey to generate funds and revitalize Atlantic City. If they can win the battle against the United States Government, this will add much needed revenue to the City of Atlantic City and improve New Jersey overall.