Sports betting in New Jersey for everyone, not just a select few
OK, it seems that the state of New Jersey has a pretty good case to pitch the Supreme Court regarding legalizing sports betting in the Garden State.
Even though voters in NJ approved a measure making it legal, the practice is still barred by a federal law passed in 1992, which makes it legal in only four states: Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon. Governor Christie and Sen. Ray Lesniak headed to Washington D.C. on Monday to offer moral support to the attorneys presenting arguments to the justices.
On Chasing News, we've covered this story hearing from the CEO of Darby Development, Dennis Drazin, who basically said that the industry of horse racing depends on this ruling. Approximately 13,000 jobs, potentially billions in economic activity and tax revenue all hang in the balance.
A favorable ruling would also be a political win for outgoing Gov. Chris Christie who, along side Sen. Lesniak, has been fighting for legal sports betting since voters approved the measure in 2011. It would also be a win for incoming Governor-Elect Phil Murphy who has hit a few snags of opposition to his two big revenue generating campaign promises, legalized marijuana and the millionaires tax.
Given the push back on legal pot, which even if the governor-elect prevails, is only a few hundred million in a state budget of about $35 billion, and the push back from the Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, Murphy's best bet could be legal sports betting.
However, legal sports betting, which will be a boon to racetracks and Atlantic City, may be short-lived given the competition from surround states that has already helped damage the gambling industry in our state. He should focus on the thousands of small businesses in New Jersey who currently hold a liquor license and could seamlessly jump into taking bets on sports.
Why should the bars in Newark, Camden, Paterson and other towns across NJ potentially lose customers who will travel an hour to watch the game, have a drink and place a bet? Policy changes should not be enacted just to benefit a few select industries. I get that the thousands of jobs and revenue from the horse industry is a positive and AC can use all the help it can get. But the fact remains legal sports betting that will likely exclude so many small businesses should be revisited.
This could be the big move for Murphy that would allow business and free market interests to compromise with him on other issues. Imagine the revenue, the jobs and the security provided to the NJ hospitality industry overall. As the President might say, it could be "yuge."
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