Van Drew Statement On Filing Of Suit To Overturn Federal Sports Gambling Ban

TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic, and a long-time advocate for sports betting in New Jersey, issued the following statement today regarding a lawsuit filed in federal court by State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, to overturn the federal ban prohibiting wagering on professional sports in the State. Senators Van Drew and Lesniak have sponsored a resolution in the State Senate calling on Congress to rescind the ban.

“I applaud Senator Lesniak for taking our cause to the courts, and fighting on behalf of the people of New Jersey for fairer treatment when it comes to sports betting. The current federal ban on sports betting is unfair, arbitrary and overbroad, and puts New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage with other states in the struggle for more tourism dollars.

“When it was instituted in 1993, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, under the auspices of preserving the integrity of sports, banned sports betting in nearly every state in the nation. States that had casino gambling already in place were given a one-year window in which to pass legislation authorizing legal sports betting and be grandfathered in under the law. New Jersey’s leaders at the time opted not to take part, and as a result, only four states – Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana – can maintain legal sports wagering within their borders.

“Right now, of the four states that are grandfathered, only Nevada has an active sports betting operation. However, as states look for new sources of revenue in the current economic crisis, reports suggest Delaware may be considering instituting its grandfathered rights and may begin regulating sports betting this year. If this happens, it would certainly be detrimental to Atlantic City’s casino industry, and will not be productive for South Jersey’s regional economy – unless we can put New Jersey on equal footing with its neighboring state.

“We have to recognize that gambling has evolved, and is much more than slot machines and blackjack tables these days. Betting parlors have opened across the river in Philadelphia, and with Delaware and New York looking to expand their gaming industries, Atlantic City has to evolve to keep pace. Sports betting would be a welcome shot in the arm, revitalizing the industry, preserving jobs, and renewing interest in our ailing casinos.

“According to the American Gaming Association, sports wagering in Nevada is a multi-billion dollar industry, generating over a hundred million dollars in gross revenue, helping to bring more than 30 million visitors to Nevada each year and providing employment opportunities to thousands of people. However, legal sports betting in Nevada is eclipsed by the amount of money spent illegally on sports wagering around the country.

“We cannot afford to be naive about illegal sports betting. It’s happening right now, and is funding other criminal enterprises which are far more dangerous for the residents of this State. A State Commission of Investigation report recently documented the flow of illegal sports book cash into drugs, prostitution and organized crime. If sports betting were subject to State oversight and taxation, that’s money that could go into health care for senior citizens, improved education for our children and redevelopment for our aging communities.

“Legal sports betting in New Jersey is something I’ve worked on for years, because I strongly believe it could generate revenues for the State while serving as an economic boon for the South Jersey tourism economy. I’m proud to stand with Senator Lesniak as he brings our fight to the next level, and I’m hopeful that his suit will yield results for New Jersey. Now, more than ever, we need legal sports wagering in New Jersey, before our casino industry, and the South Jersey economy which relies so heavily on the industry, collapses.”


To read a copy of Senator Lesniak’s complaint, click here. To read a report from Las Vegas Sports Consultants estimating the sports betting market for New Jersey, click here. To read the remarks of US Senator Charles Grassley in opposition to PAPSA, click here. And to read a Gambling911 article on the impact of the global economic downturn on sports betting, click here.

If you need additional comment, George Washington University Law Professor Thomas B. Colby, author of a Virginia Law Review article that outlines the unconstitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA) and is an expert on the issue, is available for comment, and can be reached at (202) 994-0176, or via e-mail at tcolby@law.gwu.edu.