New Jersey's most outspoken proponent of online gambling has come out in fierce opposition to gaming billionaire Sheldon Adelson's attempt to get the federal government to ban the activity, calling any potential ban an "economic catastrophe".
The comments came from State Senator Ray Lesniak, who directly challenged Adelson's stance on internet gambling and announced that he has alerted every key player in New Jersey's betting industry to the billionaire's attempt to ban internet gambling, urging them to help stop the measure that will cost the state jobs and tax revenue.
Speaking through a statement, Lesniak said: "We already have given the legal authority for Internet gaming in New Jersey, and state regulators have done a good job in reviewing and authorizing licenses for online gaming businesses. Imposing a federal ban on Internet gambling for New Jersey would be an economic catastrophe."
“Adelson has started a campaign to shut down New Jersey’s internet gaming, which will cost the loss of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of revenues to Atlantic City’s ailing casinos and hundreds of millions of dollars to the state treasury."
The comments then took a personal tone, as Lesniak challenged Adelson to focus his anti-gambling fight where it matters the most -- the poor.
“Mr. Adelson, you should take your campaign and direct it where gambling has the most negative impact – lottery sales," the multi-term Democrat said. "Convenience stores sell lottery tickets right across from low income housing projects. You should put your billions to work helping those folks get good paying jobs and job training and to support preschool education funding."
Lesniak then spoke out to former New York Governor George Pataki, saying that his stance on internet gambling has changed since he became a lobbyist for the cause.
"Shame on you, Governor Pataki. You promoted selling lottery tickets to poor people but now that you’re getting paid big money, you’ve ‘gotten religion’ about gambling."