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Assembly Passes Sports Betting Measure

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February 11, 2008

TRENTON, NJ - The New jersey Assembly has passed a measure seeking voter approval to legalize sports betting in Atlantic City casinos. The vote was 58-17 in favor. If approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, the measure will be placed on November's ballot.

Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D., Cape May), said: "The people of New Jersey deserve at least a chance to vote on this issue."

Supports believe Atlantic City could generate about $800 million a year from sports betting. The Senate version would add race tracks to provide sports gambling. Sen. Ray Lesniak (D., Union) is sponsoring the Senate bill which has yet to be voted on.

The biggest obstacle facing the bill is the federal ban on sports betting. Federal law limits sports betting or lotteries to four states: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. The law was sponsored by former Senator Bill Bradley and supported by professional sports. It required that any state with legalized casino gambling for ten years prior to January 1st, 1993 could also legalize sports betting. However, states had one year to implement that. New Jersey did not.

The ultimate decision may rest with the U.S. Congress to amend or repeal the law or with the courts as a violation of states' rights.

"The big obstacle to making it a reality, though, is the federal ban on sports betting . . . which won't go away just by our passing a bill in the Statehouse," said State Sen. Jim Whelan, chairman of the Senate Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee. "I believe New Jersey voters would support having state-regulated sports betting in casinos, but I don't want to create false hopes."

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