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Voters Say 'Yes' to Sports Betting in NJ

But now officials will need to convince a judge to overturn a federal law barring gambling on athletics.

Voters appeared to be overwhelmingly approving a statewide referendum Tuesday that will change the state constitution to enable the legalization of gambling on professional and certain college sporting events — but only if a current federal ban is overturned.

The Star Ledger was reporting that with 84 percent of the ballots counted, the measure was winning, 61 percent to 31 percent.

The amendment was supported by Oceanport Borough, home of Monmouth Park racetrack, as well as Gov. Chris Christie and State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who argues that once the referendum is approved, it will only be a matter of months before the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is ruled unconstitutional.

Lesniak has led the crusade for sports betting in New Jersey in the wake of the 2008 Monmouth County bust of an underground ring that scrounged up $35 million in illegal profits over the two years of its operation—which he cited as a waste of law enforcement dollars and a loss of revenue.

Four states — Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon — were grandfathered in to PASPA before its passage in 1993, and New Jersey had a one year window of opportunity to be included, which was shut when the state legislature opted not to pursue it.

The state legislature again scuttled legalization when Lesniak attempted to reintroduce it in 2008. Sens. Lesniak and Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) then filed suit against the federal government along with a group of state casino and racetrack interests, citing PASPA as unconstitutional. The suit was tossed out in March of this year, when a federal judge ruled the plaintiffs had no legal standing, and must first obtain the approval of New Jersey voters to amend the state constitution.

Now that voters have approved that amendment, supporters of sports betting can head back to court.

Opponents of the amendment included the National Football League, which argued that gambling should not be allowed on sporting events.

CoolBreeze November 09, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Legalize it - don't criticize it Legalize it and i will advertise it
O.J November 09, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Let's all sit back and watch as athletes start to cash in on the betting, and start throwing games.
Chuck Ruff November 10, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Absolutely! Leagalize and tax it, along with prostitution. Stop the government from acting as our nanny, and generate more revenue in order to lower taxes.
Matt M November 10, 2011 at 01:16 AM
There is a reason that there are no professional teams in Las Vegas. But I am sure New Jersey professional teams will be immune to these temptations, I mean it's not like New Jersey is known for corruption or anything.
dave November 10, 2011 at 01:55 AM
The reason that there is no pro sports in Vegas is because the market doesn't support it. If an owner thought there was money in it, there would be a team.

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