Fresh off Tuesday’s ‘we want sports betting’ referendum victory in New Jersey, State Sen. Ray Lesniak vowed to introduce relevant legislation as early as Thursday and to fast-track his bill to ensure passage in both state houses before the current legislative session ends Jan. 10. Gov. Chris Christie has already promised to sign such legislation when it arrives on his desk and now a third level of New Jersey politician has thrown his weight behind the push.
US. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), who represents the state’s 6th congressional district in Washington, has announced he will introduce a bill on Monday to grant New Jersey an immediate exemption from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal ban on sports betting. Nevada is the only state to currently enjoy full sports betting privileges under PASPA. Speaking to the Associated Press, Pallone said Tuesday’s referendum results demonstrated that his state had “voted for, and deserves a bite of the apple in terms of sports betting. Any delay in making this possible is a loss of profits for local businesses which is unacceptable … We’re not asking to break the rules, rather that everyone play by the same rules.”
While Lesniak’s bill has yet to be made public, it’s believed that casinos and racetracks would be taxed 8% on betting profits (as other gaming revenue is subject to). Bettors would have to claim winnings on their tax returns, and casinos would be required to report payouts over $10k. Never one for half-measures, Lesniak told @CKrafcik that his legislation would also include provisions for online sports betting. Pallone’s bill would differ from Lesniak’s version in at least one respect, as Pallone would prohibit college sports from being included on the list of betting options. (Insert some version of the ‘won’t someone think of the legally adult children’ meme here.)
Of course, even with such concessions to the sanctity of American youth, there’s no guarantee that Pallone’s sports betting bill will make any headway in this current ‘do-nothing’ version of Congress. What’s more, the New Jersey state attorney general’s office has yet to publicly weigh in on whether it would assist the sports betting push by suing the federal government to overturn PASPA – which many consider a necessary front in this war on PASPA’s irrational and unconstitutional restrictions.