In a ballot referendum yesterday, New Jersey voters approved sports betting at the state’s race tracks and casinos by a 2-to-1 margin.
Senator Ray Lesniak plans to introduce a bill as early as Thursday to allow horse racing tracks and casinos 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.
“This is on the fast track. I want to get it to the governor’s desk by the end of the year, so by this time next year Monmouth Park, the casinos, and the Meadowlands will be packed with people enjoying a new form of entertainment,” Lesniak told the Asbury Park Press.
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. Earlier this month, Christie said that a favourable vote would give the state stronger ground to challenge the federal ban.
Lesniak and State President Stephen Sweeney’s initial bid to have the ban on sports betting ruled unconstitutional was thrown out by a federal judge in March.
“I expect to get it to Gov. Christie for his signature before the end of the year,” said Lesinak. “By the start of next year’s NFL season, when the Eagles play the Giants, you’d better reserve your room soon in Atlantic City, because it will be packed, just like Las Vegas is now.”
Sports betting could become a $10 billion industry for New Jersey, generating $225 million a year in new revenues for the state.