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A sports betting bill has passed in the New Jersey Legislature that would enable the activity within state borders and allow the Garden State to challenge the federal government in court if necessary.
The bill was introduced after the citizens of New Jersey voiced their approval of in-state sports betting in a November vote, with 65% of voters supporting the measure. Under the proposed law, eleven casinos in Atlantic City and four horse racing tracks could legally take sports wagers, with some restaraunts and bars also being included in the legislation.
The sports betting bill will now go the Governor's office to be signed into law. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is likely to sign the bill into law, as the Republican said that he would respect the will of the people following the November vote.
Speaking about the bill, State Senator and gambling advocate Ray Lesniak said "These votes, by both houses of the legislature and the voters of New Jersey, mark the beginning of the end of the inequitable federal ban on sports betting. This time next year our residents won't have to fly to Las Vegas or visit their local bookie to bet on the Giants, Jets or Eagles to win the Super Bowl. They will be able to go to an Atlantic City casino, Monmouth Racetrack or The Meadowlands."
He then went on to say that he feels confident that the state will emerge victorious if any legal battle with the federal government ensues. "I guarantee a victory in the federal courts for New Jersey to be able to enjoy the same benefits from sports betting Congress has given to Nevada." Lesniak said.
With sagging revenues being reported in Atlantic City casinos and state horse tracks, industry insiders praised the bill's passage. The Casino Association of New Jersey issued a statement Monday that read:
"If and when the federal ban is overturned, this law would permit casinos to accept wagers on sporting events, adding another amenity to enhance our ability to compete and grow as a destination resort."
"Legalized sports betting would provide an economic boost for Atlantic City and the entire state of New Jersey, as it would attract more tourists to our city and its world-class entertainment, thriving restaurants, brand-name retail shopping and world-famous Boardwalk."