Caputo, Mazzeo, Burzichelli & Mukherji Bill to Help Clear Way for Sports Betting in NJ Heads to Governor’s Desk

Directive issued by governor last month allowing sports wagering in state without fear of criminal prosecution has been challenged by pro sports leagues & NCAA


(TRENTON) – As the legal battle to bring sports betting to New Jersey continues, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), John Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem) and Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) to rescind the state’s ban on sports betting and reinforce its legal argument received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“The gaming industry in New Jersey is struggling. Allowing sports betting in our casinos and racetracks can give the industry a much needed boost,” said Caputo. “The third circuit court made it clear there was nothing in New Jersey law preventing the state from repealing its sports wagering ban. Lifting the ban helps us clear yet another hurdle in the ongoing battle to finally bring sports betting to the state.”

The bill (A-3711) would partially repeal New Jersey’s prohibitions, permits, licenses, and authorizations concerning wagers on professional, collegiate, or amateur sports contests or athletic events at casinos or gambling houses in Atlantic City or at running and harness horse racetracks in the state. Under the bill, a collegiate sport contest or athletic event would not include a collegiate sport contest or collegiate athletic event that takes place in New Jersey, or a sport contest or athletic event in which any New Jersey college team participates regardless of where the event takes place.

The bill results from the 2013 United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruling that found that nothing in state law prohibits New Jersey from repealing its ban on sports wagering. Moreover, the United States – in its brief submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in opposition to petitions for writs of certiorari in the case – wrote that the Sports Protection Act of 1992 does not obligate New Jersey to leave in place the state-law prohibitions against sports gambling previously adopted, and that the state was free to repeal those prohibitions in whole or in part.

“Atlantic City is at a crossroads. Several casinos have folded and thousands of people have lost their jobs. Doing nothing and hoping things get better is not an option,” said Mazzeo. “We know the impact that neighboring competition has had on the state’s gaming industry. It is time for solutions. Sports betting may not be a fix-all, but it can certainly help the casinos still fighting the good fight.”

“The legal back-and-forth has the state’s casinos and racetracks watching from the sidelines, despite the governor’s directive last month authorizing sports betting in the state,” said Burzichelli. “Our struggling gaming industry cannot afford to keep waiting. New Jerseyans support allowing sports betting in the state. Repealing the ban can help us get a step closer to finally making it a reality.”

“Atlantic City casinos have lost more than 40 percent of their revenue to neighboring states. The situation is dire, but not hopeless,” said Mukherji. “Sports betting may not be the cure-all, but it can help give Atlantic City an edge over the competition. Anything that has the potential to reenergize Atlantic City and help the remaining casinos save jobs and stay afloat is worth pursuing.”

The bill was approved 73-4-0 by the Assembly and 28-1 by the Senate earlier this week.