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New Jersey senator Ray Lesniak attacks discriminatory sports betting law

Ray Lesniak, the feisty New Jersey state senator who has been shaking up the world of US online gambling legalisation, took public issue with sports betting discriminatory laws in an op-ed article for the Asbury Park Press this weekend.

Lesniak underlined the huge popularity of sports betting in the United Stats, and criticised current law which legally confines the pastime to favoured states such as Las Vegas and Delaware.

The National Football League's support for this inequitable system also came in for attack, with Lesniak saying that the football body was fooling no-one in its opposition to legalised sports betting, and that the present regime "...deprives New Jersey of the revenues from sports betting that are now going to Las Vegas, Delaware and the local bookie who is often hooked up with organized crime."

The Sentor wrote that the same is true for online gaming, likewise prohibited by federal law.

"New Jersey has 500,000 registered online poker players. Who's profiting from their gambling? Offshore operations. Foreign companies and foreign countries. Sound stupid? You bet it is (pun intended)," he penned.

"Everyone seems to be taking this lying down, including Gov. Chris Christie. Either they don't care enough or believe it is too difficult to fight against the federal government. Not me," he added.

Lesniak is no idle boaster - he has authored and shepherded legalisation bills through the New Jersey legislature, including one which will see a state referendum on sports wagering next year. He has also launched litigation against the federal government on the issue.

Giving some concrete examples of the financial import of sports betting, Lesniak notes that Club CalNeva, a Las Vegas-based company that operates more than 30 sports books and handles billions of dollars in bets, estimates that sports betting will bring in $1.3 billion in gross wagering revenues and $120 million in tax revenues for New Jersey.

"That's $1.3 billion of gross profits for our casinos and racetracks, creating and keeping thousands of jobs and attracting tourists to Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore in Monmouth and Ocean County," Lesniak points out.

"That's a lot of jobs, a lot of profits for New Jersey businesses and a lot of revenue for the state. And that's why I have filed a lawsuit in federal district court to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, which gives an unfair and unconstitutional advantage to Nevada and Delaware at the expense of New Jersey and other states.

"Constitutional law scholars at George Washington University, Vanderbilt, Willamette and Whittier law schools agree that the federal ban violates the Fifth, 10th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution and its commerce clause. Even the U.S. Justice Department had doubts about the legality of the sports betting ban and expressed its concern in a letter to then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden," Lesniak claims in his article.

"That's why I also sponsored legislation to legalize online gaming, limited exclusively to New Jersey residents to avoid the federal ban on interstate Internet gaming. Econsult, nationally recognized for its economic analysis of government operations, estimates the gross revenues to our casinos from this legislation would exceed $200 million, with at least $30 million going into our state treasury and $16 million going to programs to benefit seniors and the disabled in the Garden State.

"I'm talking about found money, now going to Las Vegas or Delaware, to offshore companies and foreign countries, or to organized crime, being captured by New Jersey businesses to create profits, jobs and revenues for our residents and our state. It doesn't get any better than that."

Source: InfoPowa News

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