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Sweeney, Van Drew & Gopal Introduce Sports Betting Legislation

Bill Would Follow Through on Supreme Court Victory for NJ 

TRENTON – Acting in response to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision allowing striking down the federal ban on sports betting, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Jeff Van Drew and Senator Vin Gopal introduced legislation today that would authorize and regulate sports gaming in New Jersey, putting in place the regulatory framework needed to allow casinos and racetracks to start taking bets.

The ruling by the nation’s highest court is the culmination of a seven-year effort by New Jersey to reverse the 1992 federal law that limited sports betting to only four states, effectively denying New Jersey and other states from allowing wagering on sporting events. The court’s 6-3 decision struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

“We want to act quickly to capitalize on the Court’s decision so that we can get sports gaming in place and operating in New Jersey,” said Senator Sweeney. “We have a competitive advantage with a long history of casino gaming including a regulatory infrastructure that has been operating for decades. It will be a natural transition to incorporate sports gaming by the casino and the racetracks.”

The bill would allow casinos in Atlantic City and racetracks and some former racetracks in the state to conduct wagering on professional and collegiate sporting events with the Casino Control Commission and the Division of Gaming Enforcement regulating the operations. Those placing wagers would have to be at last 21 years old.  Betting would be prohibited on any athletic events taking place in New Jersey and on any competitions including a New Jersey college, regardless of where it takes place. Betting on high school events would also be banned.

The legislation would provide for an eight percent gross revenue tax on in-person wagering and a 12.5 percent levy on online sports bets. The tax revenue would be dedicated to programs for senior citizens and the disabled. An additional tax of 1.25 percent on gaming revenue actually received by racetracks would be distributed to the host municipalities and counties.

New Jersey has been trying to legalize sports betting at racetracks and casinos since 2011, when 63 percent of the state’s voters approved a ballot referendum that allowed the state Constitution to be changed to permit sports betting. Major professional and college sports leagues repeatedly sued to block the state from allowing sports betting, and the ensuing legal battles have cost New Jersey taxpayers millions of dollars.

Prevented from owning or operating any sports betting facility or business will be members of sports governing bodies, as well as athletes, coaches, referees and team owners.

“The best way to protect the integrity of sports gaming is to make sure there are no conflicts of interest and no competing loyalties on the part of those directly engaged in the athletic events,” said Senator Sweeney.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement and the New Jersey Racing Commission will have responsibility for licensing and will promulgate regulations for the conduct and operation of the sports wagering activities.  The New Jersey Racing Commission would also be involved in approving the operation of a sports pool at a racetrack.