ATLANTIC CITY – Senator Jeff Van Drew testified today before the Senate Economic Growth Committee on legislation he sponsored to permit legalized sports wagering in New Jersey, calling it vital to Atlantic City’s economic success.
“Legalized sports betting is key to Atlantic City maintaining its competitive edge and to ensuring future economic success of the resort city,” Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland, said following the committee’s public hearing at the Atlantic City Convention Center. “By approving a constitutional amendment, New Jersey residents can send a strong, unified message in favor of reversing the federal ban on sports wagering, a move that would place us on a level playing field with other gaming states.”
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. It 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 measure would prohibit wagering on any college games in which a New Jersey college team participates.
The 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. Van Drew, along with Senator Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, also a bill sponsor, have said that it would strengthen the legal case brought against the federal government last year seeking to overturn PASPA as unconstitutional.
“It makes no sense for New Jersey, home to one of the nation’s top gaming destinations, to be locked out of this sector of the industry while other states turn a profit and use it to fund important programs for their residents,” said Senator Van Drew. “Especially in this tough economy, when the state is facing deep budget cuts, New Jersey should be doing all it can to tap into this market.”
“Sports betting is already taking place in back rooms and through a host of other illegal channels across New Jersey, and profits are being used to fund criminal activity, such as organized crime, prostitution, and the illegal drug and arms trade,” added Senator Van Drew. “It’s time to bring this practice out of the shadows and into the light of day so that the profits can be used for good.”
The bill was recently approved by the Economic Growth Committee by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention. Today’s public hearing was required by law to give the public another chance to testify on the bill. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.