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NJ Senate Committee Approves Sports Betting Legislation

A New Jersey Senate committee approved legislation today that would allow the state’s licensed casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting.

The S-3113 bill allows casinos and tracks to take action on professional, collegiate and amateur sporting events. Operators, however, would not be allowed to offer bets on collegiate events taking place in New Jersey or involving teams from the state.

The legislation was approved 4-to-1 by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, and will now be put before the full Senate for consideration on December 15.

It follows a ballot referendum on November 8 where residents voted to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting. The ballot passed by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

State Senator Ray Lesniak hopes a sports betting bill, which would allow wagers to be placed online, as well as in person and over the phone, can be approved and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie by January 10, when the current legislative session ends.

Before the law could take effect, however, New Jersey must overturn a federal ban on sports betting currently in place under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr, who represents the state’s 6th congressional district in Washington, announced last month plans to introduce a bill to grant New Jersey an immediate exemption from PASPA.

“New Jersey voted for, and deserves a bite of the apple in terms of sports betting. Any delay in making this possible is a loss of profits for local businesses which is unacceptable,” Palone told the Associated Press.

“The law as it stands is unconstitutional and unfairly prohibits New Jersey from benefiting from this billion-dollar industry. We’re not asking to break the rules, rather that everyone play by the same rules.”

Sports betting could become a $10 billion industry for New Jersey, generating $100 million a year in tax revenues for the state.

“These revenues are now going to Las Vegas, off shore internet gambling sites and organized crime-run betting rings,” said Lesniak.

“Our goal is to give our residents the same right to do legally in New Jersey what they can to in Nevada and bring these revenues into the state to boost our ailing casino and racing industry, and create jobs and additional state revenues as well.”

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