Says ‘Let the Games Begin’ – Fed Suit Allows Garden State to Once-And-For-All Legitimize Legal Sports Wagering Within Its Borders
TRENTON – Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, the prime sponsor of legislation legalizing sports wagering in New Jersey, today applauded the news that a coalition of professional and college sports organizations had filed suit in federal court to overturn New Jersey’s new sports better law on the grounds that it violates the federal “Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.”
“Let the games begin,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “From the start, we wanted our day in court to prove that the federal ban on sports wagering is unconstitutional. By moving forward with a law to legalize sports wagering in New Jersey – a law that was approved overwhelmingly by the voting public of New Jersey – we drew a line in the sand and dared the sports organizations to cross it. Their lawsuit today means they’ve played right into our hands, and now they have the burden of defending the constitutionality of an unfair sports wagering ban which gives four states in the country – and off-shore betting operators and organized crime – a monopoly to the detriment of everybody else.
“Frankly, I was wondering when they were going to take the bait,” added Senator Lesniak. “Now we can once and for all put to rest the question of New Jersey’s ability to determine for itself the appropriateness of sports wagering. The sooner we get into court, the sooner our residents will be able to enjoy sports betting at our casinos and racetracks and our state treasury will get the revenues from sports betting now going to Nevada and organized crime betting rings.”
Senator Lesniak had previously sued to overturn the federal ban on sports wagering, but the lawsuit was dismissed because – at the time – sports betting was illegal in New Jersey, and there was no pressing interest to force the court to make a determination on the constitutionality of the federal ban. Last November, voters in New Jersey approved a ballot referendum by nearly a 2 to 1 margin to legalize sports wagering in New Jersey. In January, a bill sponsored by Senators Lesniak and Jeff Van Drew to implement sports wagering in the Garden State was signed into law, and in May, the Christie Administration announced the promulgation of regulations to govern legal sports wagering, setting the stage for the first legal sports book operations to begin taking bets.
Senator Lesniak noted that defeating the federal ban on sports wagering in the courts – on the grounds that it violates the states’ rights clause of the Constitution – represents the last hurdle to implement ‘completely legal, totally legitimate’ sports wagering in New Jersey.