Saturday August 8,2015 : ONLINE GAMBLING SUPPORTER TO SEEK NEW JERSEY GOVERNORSHIP IN 2017?
Senator Ray Lesniak declares interest in next New Jersey gubernatorial elections..
The name Ray Lesniak will be familiar to anyone involved in the online gambling business as a respected and feisty supporter of legalization and the main driver behind the successful legalization of online gambling in the US state of New Jersey.
Senator Lesniak's legal and political maneuvering skills, allied to a tenacious focus on his targets were major elements in the ultimate legalization after years of surveys, political debate, litigation and gubernatorial veto by current governor Chris Christie, who finally came round to Lesniak's persuasive arguments.
Christie has thrown his hat into the ring in the current Republican competition for nomination as a candidate in the US presidential elections next year, and in any case his term of office as governor ends in 2017, creating space for a new governor with fresh ideas…and Lesniak intends to be the man to fill it.
"My official position has been that if enough people show their belief and support for me that I'm the best person to lead the state out of its problems, then I'm definitely running," Lesniak told Poker News in a phone interview this week.
The Senator – a Democrat – has ample experience, having served for 37 years in the state Legislature. If he is appointed governor he has already indicated that he will devote some of his time to derailing land casino mogul Sheldon Adelson's attempts to federally ban online gambling through vehicles such as the misleadingly named Restoration of America's Wire Act.
He has also said that he will further develop New Jersey's online gambling infrastructure to create a global hub, bringing investment, tax revenues and jobs to the Garden State, and that he will work to improve New Jersey internet gambling through compacts with other like-minded states.
"The reason I am seriously considering running for governor is that this state needs more effective leadership in all areas," the Senator told Poker News. "Bringing in additional revenues is a big part of that, and I've made clear my belief that there's money going outside the state for illegal offshore gambling that I want to bring back in the state."
Lesniak's gubernatorial ambitions will also impact another contentious area – sports betting. The Senator has fought for years to break the stranglehold of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which restricts sports betting to just four US states.
Lesniak has been a leading light in the litigation with national sports organisations as New Jersey attempts to secure a work-around on PASPA, and will continue to push for a more equitable US sports betting market, even if it means persuading Congress to amend or overturn the contentious legalization.