Many casinos say the referendum, if it’s not shot down in the election, would be “an important step” in overturning a federal ban on sports betting. The only states legally allowed to offer sports betting are Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. Simply because they had it before the federal ban took effect in 1992.
But, New Jersey’s ballot question is only a nonbinding referendum. It asks people whether they would want the state constitution amended to allow sports betting at the Atlantic City casinos and New Jersey horse-racing tracks. The federal ban would then have to be overturned by the court system or repealed by the United States Congress before sports betting would actually be allowed in New Jersey.
All major sports leagues have lobbied against New Jersey’s efforts to get sports betting, claiming that it could lead to cheating scandals. proponents believe it would help revive the state’s casinos, which have been hurt by the sluggish economy and competition in neighboring states such as the relatively new Pennsylvania Casinos.
“If the referendum is passed and if the federal ban is subsequently overturned, legal sports betting would provide an economic boost for Atlantic City and the entire state of New Jersey,” said Griffin, who also serves as the Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. casinos’ CEO.
An initial attempt by two New Jersey senators who support sports betting was cut short after the lawsuit was thrown out by the courts in March. The court ruled the senators had no legal standing due to the fact that New Jersey residents had not yet voted on the issue.
Senator Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, one of the senators involved in the first lawsuit, promised to refile the suit in November if voters approve the referendum. The suit argued the federal ban is unconstitutional because it treats all other states differently than the four states where sports betting is legal.
New Jersey’s plan would allow wagering on most professional, college and amateur sports events. Wagering would not be permitted on any collegiate sporting events taking place in New Jersey or involving any New Jersey college teams.