Voters still favor NJ sports betting despite federal ban

new jerseyVoters aren’t bothered if New Jersey’s sports betting bill contravenes federal law according to a new poll. The latest Farleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll asked respondents whether they would be in favor of sports betting at Atlantic City casinos even if federal law forbids it. 45 percent of those that responded are still in favor whilst 38 percent are in opposition if a federal ban is in place. The number in favor grew to 58 percent when the ban was eliminated from the poll – an increase on the 53 percent that felt the same way a year ago.

Krista Jenkins, executive director of the poll and professor of political science at FDU, commented: “Although support is not overwhelming, these numbers suggest the public is cautiously behind the goal of moving forward with legalized sports betting.”

The bill is being driven by Senator Raymond Lesniak and Governor Chris Christie with  the former telling that he was far from surprised at the latest poll results.

“Since a strong majority of New Jerseyans supported the sports betting referendum I sponsored last November, I expect that support to continue throughout our fight to overturn the federal ban,” Lesniak added.

There are a number that now believe New Jersey is turning into a battleground between not just the politicians and the leagues but also the residents themselves. The professional and amateur sports leagues have been somewhat subdued since Lesniak’s latest outburst against them last week. With Lesniak, you feel, poised with a verbal tirade to combat them should they pipe up.

The main argument is still that legalized sports gambling in New Jersey, or any other new state for that matter, threatens both the character and integrity of the sports. Whether we’ll hear anything from the leagues in the meantime is unclear as they either have the playoffs coming up (MLB) or the start of a new season in the case of the NFL, NHL and NBA with the NCAA having much the same problem.

More likely is for a racetrack, such as Monmouth Park, to be granted a licence and start to offer free-play sports betting to anyone that rocks up at the track. Dennis Drazin again spoke of his excitement at the prospects legalized sports betting could bring his track and even if it’s only free-play it will provide a customer base to work with.

“I think it will create an atmosphere where a lot of people show up,” Drazin said. “It is going to increase our crowds, which will enable us to get some crossover and probably increase our concessions. There are a lot of different aspects that will keep people there throughout the day.”

It’s now down to the federal government to make a decision and we’ll then get to find out how strong a resolve New Jersey really has.