Posted on 12/14/10 By Lenny S :
But online gambling legalization measure held up for two weeks by financial tweaks
Media reporting from the state of New Jersey late Monday confirmed that Senator Ray Lesniak's S490 proposal to legalise online gambling has been temporarily delayed by late tweaks to its financial provisions.
However, the bill is expected to pass without too much trouble following a delay of around two weeks whilst it navigates through Appropriations Committees in both the Senate and the Assembly before going to the Assembly floor and a final vote. The bill has already passed in the state Senate.
Another bill, proposing that a referendum be held on whether the state should legalise sports betting, was passed in the Assembly on a 54 – 17 vote, whilst a positive vote of 36 – 3 was also recorded in the state Senate. The bill proposes that New Jersey voters be given the opportunity to decide next year whether they want to legally bet on sports games.
The referendum will appear on the November ballot asking voters whether they want to amend New Jersey's constitution by legalising sports betting in the state.
Governor Christie is known to be against the measure, and even if the ballot initiative passes, the sports betting bill could run into difficulties due to federal legalization in the form of a 1992 federal law. That law allows only those states that previously had forms of sports betting – Nevada, and to a lesser extent Montana, Oregon and Delaware – to offer such wagering.
However, State Sen. Lesniak, has launched litigation suing the federal government to overturn the law. Governor Christie has refused to support the action.
Late Monday, Lesniak described the successful passage of the referendum proposal as 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.
"We want sports betting just like Nevada has it and Delaware has it,” Lesniak said. “We expect a decision in my court case sometime next year, and this strengthens our hand.”
Referring to the governor's reluctance to support his actions, Lesniak said: “If he won’t fight for New Jersey’s rights, we will.”
"Under Lesniak’s proposal, gamblers could not wager on New Jersey university sporting events or on any amateur event held in the state," the New Jersey.com publication noted. "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."