New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak took to Twitter this afternoon to break the news that NJ Governor Chris Christie has signed his sports betting legislation bill. Assembly Bill 3711 empowers NJ to proceed with its multi-year plan of having sports wagers accepted at licensed casinos and racetracks in the Garden State.
Senator Lesniak never gave up hope that this day would come, despite legal setbacks and protests from the professional sports leagues and NCAA, and the US Supreme Court declining to hear NJ's argument on the constitutionality of Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act ("PASPA") which limits sports betting to all but four states in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.
Sportsbook Review interviewed Senator Lesniak multiple times since NJ began this legal challenge to bring sportsbooks to Atlantic City, most recently on September 8 when Attorney General John Hoffman stated prohibitions on sports wagering would no longer be enforced.
The about-face from Governor Christie comes as a bit of a surprise considering his national political aspirations and how sports wagering is demonized in the press; Christie has been in the position to sign or veto sports betting legislation in the past, most recently in August when the Governor chose to veto. However, with New Jersey's economy struggling and workers out of jobs and blue collar families still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy, Christie's signature may be well-timed.
Senator Lesniak tweeted that he would "see you at Monmouth Racetrack" on October 26, presumably to place a sports wager on the hometown NY Football Giants to win the Super Bowl, as he vowed he would during his interview with Sportsbook Review.
There have been glimmers of hope that this day would come in the past, so tempering expectations may be in order. Who knows what legal tricks the major sports leagues or the US Justice Department may have up their sleeves, then again, residents of Colorado and Washington are enjoying clouds of marijuana smoke despite federal legislation on marijuana.
So, what happens next?
Assuming all goes according to plan, Monmouth Racetrack will begin accepting wagers on the outcomes of professional and collegiate sporting events as of October 26. Online sports betting is still unrealistic, and if it were implemented would be limited to players physically present in New Jersey. The state intends to boost tourism and raise revenue to help the economy, so for now, placing a legal sports bet in person sounds like is as good as it's going to get for New Jerseyans.
Sportsbook Review will monitor the situation and post updates as they become available. Sports bettors or New Jerseyans who wish to discuss the breaking news are invited to the SBR Sportsbook & Industry forum.