Update: Sen. Lesniak Advocates Legalization


Discriminatory sports betting law takes a blow from the senator

This weekend's Asbury Park Press reported the words of a pro-active New Jersey state senator Ray Lesniak, the main sponsor and advocate of the intra-state online gambling legalization bill, who attacked sports betting laws by assessing them as discriminatory.

What seems to bother Lesniak, in light of the enormous popularity of sports betting in the United States, is that the current law legally confines the pastime to favored states such as Las Vegas and Delaware, and that the National Football League supports this inequitable system. In this regards, Lesniak stated that the football body was fooling no one in its opposition to legalized sports betting, and that the present regime "...deprives New Jersey of the revenues from sports betting that are now going to Las Vegas, Delaware and the local bookie who is often hooked up with organized crime."

According to him, the same goes in case of federally-banned online gambling.

"New Jersey has 500,000 registered online poker players. Who's profiting from their gambling? Offshore operations. Foreign companies and foreign countries. Sound stupid? You bet it is (pun intended)," he stressed, adding: "Everyone seems to be taking this lying down, including Gov. Chris Christie. Either they don't care enough or believe it is too difficult to fight against the federal government. Not me."

Specifying the financial import of sports betting, Lesniak offered the example of a Las Vegas company Club CalNeva which operates more than 30 sports books and handles billions of dollars in bets, forecasting that sports betting will bring in $1.3 billion in gross wagering revenues and $120 million in tax revenues for New Jersey.

"That's $1.3 billion of gross profits for our casinos and racetracks, creating and keeping thousands of jobs and attracting tourists to Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore in Monmouth and Ocean County," he said.

"That's a lot of jobs, a lot of profits for New Jersey businesses and a lot of revenue for the state. And that's why I have filed a lawsuit in federal district court to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, which gives an unfair and unconstitutional advantage to Nevada and Delaware at the expense of New Jersey and other states.

"Constitutional law scholars at George Washington University, Vanderbilt, Willamette and Whittier law schools agree that the federal ban violates the Fifth, 10th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution and its commerce clause. Even the U.S. Justice Department had doubts about the legality of the sports betting ban and expressed its concern in a letter to then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden."

"That's why I also sponsored legislation to legalize online gaming, limited exclusively to New Jersey residents to avoid the federal ban on interstate Internet gaming. Econsult, nationally recognized for its economic analysis of government operations, estimates the gross revenues to our casinos from this legislation would exceed $200 million, with at least $30 million going into our state treasury and $16 million going to programs to benefit seniors and the disabled in the Garden State.

"I'm talking about found money, now going to Las Vegas or Delaware, to offshore companies and foreign countries, or to organized crime, being captured by New Jersey businesses to create profits, jobs and revenues for our residents and our state. It doesn't get any better than that."

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