Update: Sports Bill Referendum Passes in New Jersey

But Lesniak's online gambling legalization bill temporarily delayed

The New Jersey news issued late on Dec. 13 confirmed allegations of a temporary delay in the passage of Senator Ray Lesniak's S490 proposal to legalize online gambling, reportedly due to late tweaks to its financial provisions. Still, expectations remain high in regards to this law, and it is predicted to pass without too much trouble as soon as the two-week delay ends, during which it will have to pass through Appropriations Committees in both the Senate and the Assembly before going to the Assembly floor and a final vote.

However, the bill which suggests that a referendum should be held on legalization of sports betting, was passed in the Assembly on a 54 - 17 vote, receiving a positive vote of 36 - 3 in the state Senate. According to this bill, New Jersey voters will be given the opportunity to decide next year whether they want to legally bet on sports games.

It is well-known that Governor Christie is against the measure, which may put obstacles before the bill due to federal legislation in the form of a 1992 federal law, even if the ballot initiative passes. The issue with the federal law is that it permits only those states that previously had forms of sports betting - Nevada, and to a lesser extent Montana, Oregon and Delaware - to offer such wagering.

To overturn this law, Sen. Lesniak has sued the federal government, despite the fact that Governor Christie has refused to support the action, causing the following comment from Lesniak: 'If he won't fight for New Jersey's rights, we will.'

It was stated by Lesniak regarding the successful passage of the referendum proposal that it is a "big day" because it sent a strong message to Congress and to the courts that New Jersey is seriously against unfair discrimination by federal law. In addition, he said: "We want sports betting just like Nevada has it and Delaware has it. We expect a decision in my court case sometime next year, and this strengthens our hand.'

The New Jersey.com publication noted that "Under Lesniak's proposal, gamblers could not wager on New Jersey university sporting events or on any amateur event held in the state. Lesniak said that analysts have estimated that the state could gain $120 million in new annual tax revenue from legalization of sports betting, though critics dispute that amount."

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