New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak joins SBR again via telephone to discuss his plans to challenge federal law by offering sports betting in Atlantic City casinos. Also discussed is proposed legislation which aims to make online gambling legal within the confines of licensed gaming establishments.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 outlaws sports betting nationwide with the exception of four states—Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. New Jersey operates land-based casinos in Atlantic City, but unlike Las Vegas casino resorts, PASPA expressly forbids New Jersey from running a sportsbook. New Jersey could have chosen to take advantage of a one-year window provided by Congress to permit sports wagering; legislation allowed for states that previously operated licensed casino gambling to opt for an exemption, by a deadline of one-year from PASPA becoming federal law. That very inaction haunts NJ lawmakers today as they look to bring in another $200M+ a year for the State, which sports betting is expected to generate.
On May 25th, SBR reported that NJ Governor Chris Christie made colorful headlines
at a news conference when declaring that he intended to proceed with plans to introduce sportsbook wagering in Atlantic City casinos by fall of 2012.
SBR Natalie questioned Senator Lesniak on the Governor’s comments and inquired on what may have inspired his change of heart on gambling since vetoing an online gambling bill in 2011, the Senator provided an insightful response that makes for an interesting soundbite:
Senator Lesniak: “Governor Christie’s first and foremost concern is his national political ambitions unfortunately, and not for the State of New Jersey. The Governor has gotten cold feet on supporting internet gambling after signaling he would support it a few months ago. As you may recall, a year ago he vetoed my legislation in the State of New Jersey. Quite honestly, I’m not sure where he stands right now. My intent is to get a bill on his desk by the end of June.”
On the expected time-frame of sports betting installation in Atlantic City casinos, Senator Lesniak added the following: “The Governor has signaled that he wants to wait until the fall to act on this, which not coincedentally is after the Republican National Convention.”
Bill H.R. 3809, dubbed the “New Jersey Betting and Equal Treatment Act of 2012” seeks to amend the federal law to exclude New Jersey from the prohibition on professional and amateur sports gambing.
Internet Gambling in New Jersey
The interview took an interesting twist when Senator Lesniak clarified how exactly online gambling will be implemented in New Jersey. Under the proposed legislation (A.B. 2578), internet gambling would only be permissable whilst a patron attended a licensed Atlantic City casino.
Senator Lesniak conceded that many Americans enjoy gambling within the comfort of their own homes, but acknowledged that federal law would need to be amended to permit true internet gambling. The law Senator Lesniak was referring to is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 ("UIGEA"). The UIGEA prohibits gambling businesses from serving the US market; the act also requires financial institutions to establish reasonable methods to identify and block transactions to known gambling organizations.
Until the UIGEA is amended or overturned, millions of Americans will continue to long for the personal liberties that should be inherent in a true democratic republic. Despite the federal law, many offshore companies cater to US customers; due to the unregulated nature of the industry, scam sportsbooks are able to operate with no intention of paying winnings.
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