As lawmakers continue to deal with the recent Supreme Court rulings, New Jersey residents are beginning to turn online for their sports betting needs. The Supreme Court of the United States kept silent when asked by the state to have a hearing on a recent federal appellate court ruling stating that sports betting will continue to be illegal in New Jersey, even though voters overwhelmingly voted to make the practice legal.
As directed by 1992’a Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, sports betting is only legal in four states. These states are Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. New Jersey has long lobbied for sports bookings to be allowed into their Atlantic City casinos. The PASPA was not the state’s only obstacle. In fact, the five major leagues, the National Football Association, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the NCAA all lobbied against New Jersey, threatening to sue if the law was passed.
While the vote to pass sports betting legislation passed in a New Jersey election, a poll from October shows that the population is split on the issue. The law did not allow for New Jersey residents to bet on college and sports events in New Jersey. The sports leagues combated the law, saying that it diminished the integrity of the games. However they made no such accusations concerning fantasy football, which the NFL does not see as gambling.
Lawmaker Raymond Lesniak has since introduced legislation that would wipe all gambling restrictions from New Jersey books. While this would put New Jersey law in defiance of federal law, Lesniak is not concerned. He compares the legislation to marijuana legalizing laws in Washington and Colorado, noting how the federal authorities are doing nothing to stop those states from breaking federal laws.
As revenues start to dry up in Atlantic City, it has started to become more important for them to be able to capitalize on the gains that sports betting in casinos would make. The state is missing out on $225 million worth of revenue from sports betting. It is estimated that over $500 billion is wagered on sports illegally in the United States each year. Las Vegas casinos have had sports betting since the 1970’s. As more and more states surrounding New Jersey legalize table gaming, Atlantic City and New Jersey’s racetracks are beginning to feel the pinch.
Online sports betting revenues reached $4.29 billion in 2005. In 2013, New Jersey had its first year of online gambling without sports betting. The state brought in only $9.3 million in taxes on gaming for the fiscal year, a number that was extremely beneath the projected $160 million. Many say this is because of a lack of an online sports book.
Though the Supreme Court has remained silent on the issue of sports betting in New Jersey, the fight carries on. More and more residents are in favor of it, and are turning to the Internet to gamble the way they prefer. With new legislation on the horizon, the conflict over sports gambling in New Jersey will continue.
By Bryan Levy