The bill, SCR-49, would ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment to legalize sports wagering at New Jersey's casinos and horse-racing tracks. The bill would permit bets to be placed on professional, college, or amateur sports or athletic events, either in-person or via telephone, Internet or other means. The bill would prohibit wagers to be placed on college games that take place in New Jersey or on any game in which a New Jersey college team participates.
The bill was approved by the committee in February by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention. Under current law, constitutional amendments require an additional public hearing, to give the public another chance to testify on the bill, before it goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The proposal is sponsored by Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union), the committee chairman, and Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May).
"Legal sports wagering could be a tool to help in Atlantic City's economic revival," Lesniak said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, the federal ban on sports wagering in all but a handful of states stands as a blockade from New Jersey determining its own economic destiny. By advancing a constitutional amendment to legalize sports wagering, we can send a message about the constitutionality of the federal ban and position New Jersey to start sports wagering as soon a the ban is rescinded."
Lesniak and Van Drew noted that the state constitutional amendment would be predicated on the reversal of the Federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992,, a law which prohibits sports wagering in all but four states throughout the nation.
Lesniak, supported by Van Drew and gaming interests in New Jersey, has brought a lawsuit against the federal government to try to overturn the federal ban as unconstitutional. Both senators noted that a state constitutional amendment bolsters their legal case in expressing the will of New Jersey voters and establishes the legal framework to allow for sports wagering when their legal efforts to overturn the federal ban are successful.
The hearing will begin at 11:00 AM in Room 411 of the Convention Center, One Convention Blvd. in Atlantic City.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM