In the wake of the recent allegedly mob-related online betting arrests in New Jersey, state senator Ray Lesniak used the media spotlight to reiterate his call for Gov. Chris Christie to climb down off the fence and demonstrate clear, unqualified support for the state’s online gambling and sports betting bills. Stating that “organized crime has a virtual monopoly on sports book,” Lesniak said Christie “should support legislation to legitimize internet gaming and support the legal challenge to the federal ban on sports betting.” Lesniak said he hoped this week’s arrests would serve as “a wake-up call’ for Christie.
Faster than you could say ‘Shazam!’ (look it up, kids), Christie called a press conference in front of Resorts Casino in Atlantic City for Thursday afternoon, at which he declared New Jersey would forge ahead with its plan to offer sports betting to customers at AC’s dozen casinos and the state’s four racetracks. “It will be another exciting way to add to the experience here in Atlantic City, and I know this is something people have been waiting for for a long time.” Christie said the plan should be up and running by the time the National Football League kicks off its new season in September, adding that “if someone wants to stop us, then they’ll have to take action to try and stop us.”
Christie’s announcement effectively dares the NFL and/or the federal government to seek an injunction to block New Jersey’s move, meaning the opposing sides will likely end up in court sooner rather than later. But Christie said he had “every confidence we’re going to be successful.” Apparently caught off guard, Lesniak told NorthJersey.com’s John Brennan that he didn’t know “why it happened just now, but I’m glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” And then we assume Lesniak went off and tested out his new magical powers of persuasion by ordering Donald Trump to take that damn thing off his head already.
Atlantic City casino execs – always desperate for additional revenue streams – also expressed their support for Christie’s stance, although some were adopting a wait-and-see stance before converting their buffets into sportsbooks. Tropicana Entertainment president Tony Rodio told the Associated Press he loved “the idea of playing offense and having the federal government to play defense against us. But I don’t know who’s going to want to be the first to open knowing they can shut you down.”