TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland) today issued the following statement on the United States Supreme Court’s pending decision on sports betting in New Jersey. New Jersey is currently in a legal battle with five major American sports leagues and the federal government to allow sports betting in the state. The Supreme Court could decide the case as early as next month:
“The Supreme Court could be weeks away from a decision on sports betting and, as an early supporter when I was in the Assembly, I am thrilled we may be on the verge of making this happen.
“Imagine what ‘Eagles fever’ would have meant for Atlantic City if sports betting were legal. Super Bowl LII would have brought thousands of fans to spend the weekend in Atlantic City, to watch the game and to patronize restaurants and shops throughout the city. If we are successful, it will mean that when sports teams from Philadelphia and New York play in big games, Atlantic City will be the viewing destination for people throughout the region. It will attract fans from across the country during major sporting events year round.
“Legalizing sports betting would also help to clean up illegal betting in the state, which fuels the underground market and creates profits for organized crime. The State Commission of Investigation reported on this in 2004, and recommended the Legislature look at the best way to achieve legalization.
“Even back then, when we held hearings on this issue, there were many skeptics who thought bringing sports book to Atlantic City was a losing battle. That’s no longer the case, and now there is no denying the significant benefits this will have for our state and for Atlantic City.
“New Jersey and Atlantic City may be the underdogs in this fight, but we have been waiting for a win. I am hopeful the Supreme Court will legalize sports betting in New Jersey and give Atlantic City, the region and the state the opportunity we deserve to continue to build upon our successes.”
In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was signed into law, banning sports betting in every state but Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana (which were grandfathered into the law). New Jersey was given a one-year timetable to legalize sports betting, which it did not make. As chair of the Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee in 2004, Senator Van Drew advocated for bringing sports betting to New Jersey, and sponsored legislation to legalize it. Along with Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, he was the prime sponsor of the 2012 bill signed into law to allow sports betting, but that was challenged by the major sports leagues which filed an emergency injunction in the courts. In 2014, a bill was signed into law to repeal the state’s existing laws prohibiting sports betting and the major sports leagues again sued the state. That case is now pending a decision by the United States Supreme Court. Voters in New Jersey have already approved a public referendum, by a 2 to 1 margin, to legalize sports betting in the state.