The long and treacherous road towards sports betting regulation in New Jersey is seeing traction again today. The state senate’s Gaming and Tourism Committee is holding a hearing to decide whether to begin drawing up a sports betting bill. It would be put forward after voters decide to approve sports betting in a referendum on November 8th.
Senator Jim Whelan commented, “If this referendum should pass, we want to hit the ground running. We want to put a bill together so that when New Jersey goes back to court, not only did we just pass the referendum, but we would have enabling legislation as well.
“The hearing Monday is a hypothetical, what the bill should look like,” he said.
Senator Ray Lesniak did confirm that the legislature could “almost instantaneously” move on a bill if November’s referendum comes back in their favor. It’s thought the legislature will act on the bill during the lame-duck session that will be between the election and the end of the legislative term on January 9.
It all seems rather early to be discussing this though. A federal ban is in place that bans sports betting on sports events in this state and most others. Therefore, any referendum victory would then have to surpass this as well before we see sports gambling at venues in New Jersey any time soon.
The bill is being put in place to support the state’s ailing casino business industry, with Atlantic City seeing three consecutive years of revenue declines. A survey of the state’s voters saw that 53% are in favor of sports betting being allowed. That did take place half a year ago and will mean that a swing of only 4% meaning that a referendum wouldn’t pass. Whatever happens with the referendum its extremely unlikely that sports betting will ever be widely approved in the US, especially in our life times.