ATLANTIC CITY – On Monday, April 5, the Senate Economic Growth Committee will hold a public hearing at the Atlantic City Convention Center on SCR-49, legislation sponsored by Committee Chairman Raymond J. Lesniak, and Senator Jeff Van Drew to allow for legalized sports wagering in New Jersey.
“Legal sports wagering could be a tool to help in Atlantic City’s economic revival,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “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about the constitutionality of the federal ban and position New Jersey to start sports wagering as soon a the ban is rescinded.”
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 wagers to be placed on professional, college, or amateur sports or athletic events, either in-person of from any other location using 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.
Both lawmakers noted that the State constitutional amendment would be predicated on the reversal of the Federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), a law which prohibits sports wagering in all but four states throughout the nation. Senator Lesniak, supported by Senator Van Drew and officials representing gaming interests in New Jersey, has brought a lawsuit against the federal government to try to overturn PASPA as unconstitutional. Both lawmakers noted that a State constitutional amendment bolsters their legal case in expressing the will of the voting public in New Jersey, and establishes the legal framework to allow for sports wagering when their legal efforts to overturn the federal ban are successful.
The bill was recently approved by the Economic Growth 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 hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM on Monday in Room 411 of the Atlantic City Convention Center, One Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ.