Officials in New Jersey have exhausted their patience while waiting on federal legislation to lift a ban on sports betting. However, state Sen. Jennifer Beck said the state is ready to move forward with sports betting in casinos and racetracks despite that federal ban which Beck believes will be lifted if the state is challenged on its decision to institute sports betting.
Attorneys in New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office believe the federal law is probably unconstitutional because you cannot prohibit or limit certain industry to certain states. Gov. Chris Christie has gone on record recently saying that New Jersey will have sports betting before year’s end. Now the push is on. Beck said the state has taken all of the necessary steps to set the stage for sports wagering. New Jersey is going to move forward and wait for the federal government to come and tell us we can’t. When they say we can’t a lawsuit will be filed. The federal government banned sports betting in 1992 and states were given a window of one year to legalize it. Officials in Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon were the only ones who did. Only Nevada has large-scale sports betting and the other three states currently have limited wagering.
Sports wagering is a $500 billion business in Nevada and Beck knows this. She also knows that even more is bet each year illegally. New Jersey could stand to see an additional $120 million in tax revenues if sports’ betting is legalized and they could really use that money.
New Jersey’s 2011 election saw an overwhelming response from voters in favor of a nonbinding referendum. Two-thirds of voters said they support legalizing sports betting at casinos and race tracks in the state. State legislators also approved sports betting through its many challenges. Atlantic City casinos and race tracks across the state would be allowed to offer wagering on college and professional sports.
It would not be legal to place wagers on any sporting event held in New Jersey and on any event in which a New Jersey college team participates, regardless of location. Under the bill, the Casino Control Commission and the Division of Gaming Enforcement would regulate sports wagering.
All monies collected from the sports wagering would be subject to an 8 percent gross revenue tax. Ideally, what Beck would like to see happen is for the first person to step up to the plate and open up a sports book and then have the federal government come in and shut them down and then the lawsuit would be filed. Another obstacle for the state in addition to the federal ban is professional sports leagues and the NCAA since they are not in favor of sports betting.
Christie has specified that half of the state revenue resulting from sports betting would go to assistance programs for those with compulsive gambling problems.