Governor Corzine said on Friday that he will intervene and join Senator Lesniak’s lawsuit seeking to overturn a federal prohibition on sports betting:
“The federal government’s prohibition on sports betting for some but not all states is fundamentally unfair,” Governor Corzine said. “There should be uniformity in the application of federal law. If one state is allowed to legalize betting on sports events, all states should be allowed the same opportunity.”
“Delaware’s entry into sports wagering and table games is a serious threat to the both the casino and horse racing industries in New Jersey,” Governor Corzine said. “We must do everything in our power to stay competitive. We simply cannot afford to sit back and let neighboring states press an unfair advantage against us anytime, and certainly not in the midst of this global economic crisis.”
Senator Van Drew had a good deal to say on Corzine joining the lawsuit including a call to Senator Codey to post the bill for a vote because he thinks pushing legislation will move the lawsuit quicker:
“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.
The move by Delaware to legalize has definitely created a greater sense of urgency. Pretty much on cue, we saw stories in the paper this past weekend about how the expanded gambling worries Atlantic City. The Vineland Daily Journal had an editorial saying that on sports betting, NJ dealt it’s own bad hand:
New Jersey lawmakers dropped the ball on this by not taking action against the federal law sooner. We just hope the mistake doesn’t cost too many more jobs in an already battered Atlantic City.
They could have challenged the law sooner, but I don’t know if that would have made a difference necessarily. Maybe the thinking now is that even if they can’t get it legalized or win the lawsuit, they can say they did everything to try and get it done with the decision being out of their hands. And if they do actually win the suit, jackpot.