Lesniak ‘pretty confident’ about sports betting bill’s chances

Andrew George//October 17, 2014

Lesniak ‘pretty confident’ about sports betting bill’s chances

Andrew George//October 17, 2014

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) says he’s “pretty confident” that Gov. Chris Christie will sign his bill lifting the ban on sports wagering in New Jersey and allowing casinos and racetracks to begin taking bets on games immediately.Lesniak’s bill received nearly unanimous bipartisan approval from the Senate on Tuesday and the Assembly on Thursday, sending the legislation to Christie’s desk for consideration.

“We’re all hoping and expecting the governor to act boldly and swiftly so that we can get to the finish line,” Lesniak said.

RELATED: Sports betting bill heads to Christie’s desk after Assembly approval

Lesniak says that if Christie were to sign the bill in the next two days, he’s been told that Monmouth Park Racetrack is “gearing up to start taking bets next Sunday.”

“In order to do that, we need the governor to sign the bill in the next 48 hours,” Lesniak said.

RELATED: N.J. Senate approves new sports betting bill

Christie’s plans for the bill remain unclear. While supporters of the bill say it works to bolster the directive issued by acting state Attorney General John Hoffman last month permitting casinos and racetracks to take wagers on sports without fear of prosecution, it is nearly identical to a measure Christie vetoed back in August on the grounds that he deemed a 1992 federal law prohibiting New Jersey from starting a sports book to be “sacrosanct.” It was only after federal courts ruled against New Jersey’s case to repeal the law that Lesniak put forward his legislation.

Lesniak maintains that, while it was only two months ago that the governor struck down his bill with his veto pen, the situation in Atlantic City begs Christie to reverse course. In that time, the city has witnessed three casinos close and another currently appears to be on the chopping block.

“Circumstances have changed,” Lesniak said. “Four casinos have closed since then.”


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