The New Jersey State Assembly Thursday approved a bill legalizing sports betting that will now travel to the desk of Gov. Chris Christie for his signature or veto. The state senate approved the bill earlier this week.
The assembly voted 73-4 in favor of the bill, which was an altered version of legislation developed earlier this year, NorthJersey.com reported Thursday. Previous attempts to pass gambling legislation had "not sufficiently clarif(ied) that the new gambling at the state’s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos would be overseen by private interests and not the government," the website reported.
New Jersey voters have been weighing whether to approve sports gambling since 2011, when voters approved a nonbinding referendum legalizing the practice. Gov. Christie signed into law a bill in 2012 legalizing sports betting in the state.
The major sports leagues, including the NBA, NFL and MLB sued, saying the law was in violation of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which bans sports betting in all but four states.
U.S. District court judge Michael Shipp ruled at the time that PAPSA was in fact constitutional, and issued an injunction that prevented New Jersey from initializing the law.
Gov. Christie earlier this year ordered "the state attorney general's office not to prosecute casinos and racetracks if they offered sports betting that wasn't regulated by the state," according to the Associated Press.
Judge Shipp is expected to rule on the legality of Gov. Christie's argument some time late this month.
Sen. Ray Lesniak, an outspoken proponent of the sports gambling law, told NorthJersey.com that while he didn't know if Gov. Christie would sign the bill, “I know that we adopted amendments to the bill that [Christie] suggested, and normally that indicates support."
- Will Green