Thursday, November 10, 2011 : NEW JERSEY REPRESENTATIVE PLANS TO SEEK EXEMPTION FROM SPORTS BETTING ACT
Rep. Frank Pallone will launch Congressional bill to exempt New Jersey from the PASPA
Hard on the heels of the positive vote for sports betting in the New Jersey November 8 ballot , a New Jersey politician has entered the fray with plans to immediately launch a Congressional bill seeking to obtain federal exemption for New Jersey from the provisions of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
New Jersey.com reports that by doing so Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., who represents the people of the 6th District of New Jersey, hopes to avoid a long and costly legal battle over whether New Jerseyans should be able to bet on sports.
Pallone's attempt in Congress will probably run in parallel to a state bill on which New Jersey state senator Ray Lesniak is working in a more combative attempt to achieve a similar result – sports betting for New Jersey punters and a fillip for the ailing land gambling industry in Atlantic City.
Lesniak is pressing Governor Chris Christie for support following the overwhelmingly positive vote for sports betting in the state ballot, and Christie is on record as saying he will bow to the will of the people.
However, political observers are unsure on exactly how successful Pallone will be in fast-tracking such a measure into Congress and steering it through the legislative process in the face of possible opposition.
On Wednesday Pallone told Associated Press: "New Jersey voted for, and deserves a bite of the apple in terms of sports betting. Any delay in making this possible is a loss of profits for local businesses, which is unacceptable."
Pallone's bill differs from the state measure planned by Sen. Lesniak in that it would not allow wagering on college games, which could defuse opposition from that quarter.
State Rep. Ruben J. Ramos,Jr. told the news service that the Pallone bill could be an important first step in improving the revenues of the state’s gambling venues.
"Our racetracks are fighting an unfair fight against the competition," he said. "Sports betting is a billion-dollar industry, and only four states are allowed by federal law to benefit from legal sports wagering. This is a first step towards adding New Jersey to that list, generating tax dollars, creating jobs and breathing new life into our racetracks."
Meanwhile, Sen. Lesniak has confirmed that he is to launch his state bill before the end of this week.
This will seek to authorise the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to issue sports betting licenses, and requires the state attorney general to take legal action if necessary to overturn the PASPA federal ban.
The bill proposes the tax rate on casino and racetrack profits at 8 percent, the same rate the land casinos in the state pay on their gambling revenue. Winning bets are considered taxable income, and patrons would be responsible for declaring them, with the casinos required to report winnings of $10,000 or more to the IRS.
Lesniak said state Sen. Jim Whelan, who won re-election Tuesday, will consider the bill later this month, and that both houses of the state legislature plan to fast-track the measure in the hope of getting it to Gov. Chris Christie's desk before the current session ends in early January.