Will Sports Betting Save New JerseyThe August 09, 2010, By Zane Plate
When the budget of New Jersey came almost ten billion dollars short, Governor Christie inflicted more cuts on the residents of the state than ever, with his eye ever on the plans to make Atlantic City a gambling Mecca once more. In this climate, who can blame the sports racing industry in New Jersey, who is basically on life support, for wanting a piece of the action, and for seeing sports betting as the ointment for New Jersey’s wounds?;
Indeed, almost six hundred million dollars a year in prospective revenue is a difficult sum to turn down.
That’s the figure Cantor Fitzgerald came up with two years ago in a report that estimated how much money would go to the state’s casinos if sports betting were legalized. The report also projected an additional $60 million in tourism would be generated for the state treasury.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak, who likes those numbers, has been riding the sports-betting pony for a while. But it’s been mostly a cold trail for the Union County Democrat — until now. Last year, he sued the U.S. Justice Department seeking to overturn a federal law that restricts sports betting to Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware. And with the support of Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat representing Cumberland and Atlantic counties, Lesniak also is pushing an amendment to the state constitution that would allow sports betting in New Jersey as well as the legalization of internet gaming through Atlantic City casinos.
If the cards fall into place, there could be a sports-betting question on the ballot in November.
“It’s ridiculous to me that New Jersey and 45 other states cannot legally bet on sporting events, but citizens in four states can,” he says. “We are being discriminated against.”
There’s little doubt New Jersey’s gaming outlets could use a lift. Gross operating profits at Atlantic City’s 11 casinos dropped 25.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to state casino regulators.