Whelan Encourages Passage Of Sports Wagering Referendum

Says Additional Gaming Options Could Provide Economic Boost to Atlantic City

TRENTON – Following today’s public hearing of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, Chairman Jim Whelan emphasized the importance of authorizing sports wagering for the New Jersey’s gaming industry.

“With the recent increase in gaming in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York, New Jersey must take steps to remain competitive and relevant and to ensure the future of our casino and gaming industry both in Atlantic City and throughout the state,” said Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic). “Sports wagering can offer a unique gaming opportunity that will not only attract new businesses and jobs to New Jersey and boost tourism to places like Atlantic City, but can also bring in much needed revenue to the state.”

The committee heard testimony relating to the statewide referendum on the November ballot which would create a constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to enact laws permitting betting on sports or athletic events at casinos in Atlantic City or at racetracks throughout the state. The amendment would not permit wagers to be placed on college games that take place in New Jersey or on any game a New Jersey college team participates in regardless of where the game takes place.

“Betting on sporting events is already taking place illegally, but without a change in the state’s constitution, we can not supervise and regulate these actions, and it cannot produce revenue for Atlantic City or jobs for our residents,” said Senator Whelan. “New gaming options, such as sports wagering can provide real revitalization opportunities for Atlantic City, making it an attractive travel location for larger audiences who in turn will patronize shops, restaurants and hotels. It is also estimated sports betting can be a $250 million industry in New Jersey and can provide needed tax revenue to aid support programs for seniors and persons with disabilities, such as Meals on Wheels, Adult Protective Services or the Safe Housing Program.”

Testifying at the hearing were Econsult Corporation, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey, the New Meadowlands Racetrack, Perretti Farms, Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and the Casino Association of New Jersey.

An April 2011 Fairleigh Dickinson poll showed that 53 percent of voters were in favor of amending the constitution to allow for sports wagering, while only 30 percent opposed the change.

The state-wide referendum will be on the November 8 ballot.