Update New Jersey Residents Say They Want Sports Betting

Sports betting has been a well discussed topic in New Jersey over the summer and into the fall. In a prior post, we reported that a nonbinding referendum would be placed on the November ballot to determine the support that New Jersey residents have in terms of betting on competitive sports.

The results are in and New Jersey voters confirmed what the polls suspected, that the majority of New Jersey residents do not want to face criminal charges if they place a bet on a sporting event. The only statewide issue on the ballot was sports betting and 65 percent of the voters from the 90 percent of reporting precincts said that they were in favor of the change.

The next step to legalizing the ability to bet money on sporting events would require federal action. As it stands, there is a federal ban that would preempt any New Jersey law legalizing the type of gambling. If the ban is lifted – as it was in four other states – betting could commence.

Bets would be allowed on professional, college and amateur sports. The major limitation on the betting would exclude any college events that occur in the state or any event that a New Jersey collegiate team participates in. Those games would remain off-limits.

Sen. Raymond Lesniak is a major proponent of the movement to legalize sports betting and supports a bill that he hopes will make it through the Legislature and to the governor before Jan. 10 of 2012. Lesniak had been a part of a suit that challenged the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that ultimately bars betting on sporting events in most of the United States. We will have to continue to wait at this point to see whether federal officials will lift the ban for New Jersey.

Source: cbs money watch, “NJ voters: We want to bet on sports if US says yes,” Nov. 9, 2011

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