NJ Says 'Yes' to Sports Betting, But Why?
A lot of folks might not have even realized that Tuesday was Election Day. As an aside, I find it unfortunate that people don't take the extra few minutes to stop and vote on every election day — not just when there's a presidential race, or some other consequence of great magnitude — but I'll leave that topic alone, at least for now. Despite the fact that there weren't many high-profile races going on across the nation, there were a lot of big issues at stake in several states.
For example, Mississippi voters rejected a bill that would have changed the "meaning of life," for purposes of abortion and related issues; Ohio voters rebuked GOP Governor John Kasich's bid to rewrite state labor law, which would have substantially limited collective bargaining; and the people of New Jersey voted resoundingly to allow sports betting in the state. The only problem here is that federal law (which, of course, trumps any state's law) prohibits sports betting in all states except Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, Montana.
So why did proponents of sports betting bother to go through all the trouble of getting the referendum on the ballot? According to the Star-Ledger, State Senator Ray Lesniak (D–Union), who "spearheaded the effort for sports wagering" in NJ, plans to get another law passed authorizing the state's Casino Control Commission to issue sports betting licenses to casinos and racetracks. The idea is that once the state has such a law in place, the administration can sue the federal government to declare the federal ban on sports betting unconstitutional.
Getting an issue on the ballot isn't easy, so it seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through for something that, even if successful, depends on so many contingencies. Nonetheless, Lesniak says he's hoping to have sports betting legalized in NJ in time for the start of the 2012 NFL season. Even if it all goes smoothly, it would still be illegal to bet on college games that take place in NJ, and on NJ college teams, regardless of where they're playing.