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Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union)

‘Hoping the second time’s the charm’

 TRENTON – Saying he hopes “the second time’s the charm,” Senator Raymond Lesniak said on Wednesday he will introduce new legislation that will bolster the state’s legal position on sports betting. The bill, which Senator Lesniak will introduce on Monday, would explicitly abolish language in state law that prohibits sports betting, a move that would reinforce the attorney general’s motion to lift the injunction preventing the state from moving forward on plans to allow casinos and racetracks to accept wagers on sporting events.

“I hope and expect that the second time will be the charm,” said Senator Lesniak, referring to a similar bill intended to accomplish the same goal that was vetoed by the governor. “This will shore up the attorney general’s legal argument. His motion asks to court to parse my previous legislation, which it shot down by saying it implicitly repealed the state’s prohibitions on sports betting at casinos and racetracks. This bill will specifically abolish language on the books that prevents sports betting, which will give our legal motion more authority and will help withstand any challenges.”

The opinion by the Federal Court’s Third Circuit was an “open invitation” for New Jersey because it stated that it would not violate the federal ban on sports betting since that ban only applies to “state authorized” wagers, Senator Lesniak said.

The decision, which was placed on hold by a subsequent injunction, said “New Jersey is free to repeal those prohibitions in whole or in part.”

“This has been a long, hard fought effort to allow New Jersey to permit sports betting,” said Senator Lesniak, who first developed the strategy of allowing casinos and racetracks to take bets by removing state prohibitions. “This is the last stand for the sports leagues. I expect they will soon throw in the towel.”

Senator Lesniak said he expects his legislation to reach the governor’s desk by the end of the month.