Says Pushing Legislation May Move Legal Proceedings Quicker
TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic, issued the following statement regarding Governor Corzine’s announcement that he will be joining in the legal effort to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, and called on legislative leaders to move sports betting legislation in New Jersey to speed up the legal proceedings:
“I applaud Governor Corzine for lending his support to legal efforts, led by Senator Ray Lesniak and myself, to overturn the federal ban on sports betting. New Jersey’s gaming industry, and the larger tourism sector that depends on the vitality of that industry, cannot afford to fall behind other states in the nation when it comes to a legalized sports book.
“While I think Senator Lesniak will ultimately be successful in arguing the unconstitutionality of the federal sports betting ban, I think now is the perfect time for New Jersey to make a statement right here within our own borders that we won’t let our casinos become uncompetitive and obsolete when compared to gaming establishments in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York.
“During the last three legislative sessions, I’ve sponsored bills to legalize sports betting in New Jersey, regardless of the federal ban. That legislation has passed the Assembly this session, but remains stalled in the Senate.
“Today, I’d like to call on Senate President Codey to post the bill, so we can jump-start the discussion of legalized sports betting within the Garden State.
“Posting the bill is a calculated risk. If Senator Lesniak is successful in court, we want to have the legislative framework ready, so we can begin legal sports wagering at our State’s casinos as soon as possible.
“However, if the bill moves through the Legislature and becomes law before Senator Lesniak ultimately wins in court, our efforts to implement legal sports betting would most likely garner a court challenge – giving us another opportunity to weigh the constitutionality of the federal ban in court, and hopefully, speeding up the process in terms of deliberation of Senator Lesniak’s suit.
“Delaware’s recent law legalizing sports betting is a threat to the economic viability of Atlantic City’s casinos. Expanded gaming in our neighboring states of Pennsylvania and New York continues that threat. While we’ve recently seen some good news in terms of Atlantic City’s employment numbers going up, we cannot be complacent with minimal gains in a dangerous economy.
“We need sports betting now, in order to keep Atlantic City as the premier gaming destination in the North East. Moving legislation to advance sports betting in the State will help our efforts on all fronts to overturn the federal ban and keep our casino industry performing as a major economic engine of the South Jersey region.”