Congressmen renew efforts to legalise sports betting in New Jersey

New Jersey Congressmen Frank Pallone Jr and Frank LoBiondo are to reintroduce legislation to allow sports betting in the state, timing their latest push to legalise the vertical to coincide with the 51st edition of the National Football League's Super Bowl which takes place this weekend.

Democrat Pallone and Republican LoBiondo argue that legalised sports betting will boost the New Jersey economy and crack down on illegal businesses offering odds on sporting events.

This has prompted the pair to reintroduce bills to lift restrictions on sports betting in New Jersey and elsewhere, although details of the bills have not yet been published.

Pallone is to reintroduce his NJ BET Act, which aims to exempt the state from current federal law, while LoBiondo's Sports Gaming Opportunity Act would open a four-year window for all states to enact sports betting legislation.

Pallone and LoBiondo, long-term advocates of legal sports betting, first introduced these complementary bills in 2015, only to see them fail to progress beyond a Congressional Committee.
These bills would effectively render New Jersey's appeal against a ruling blocking the state from introducing sports betting regulations meaningless. After regulation was approved by New Jersey voters in a 2011 referendum, the enactment of legal sports betting was blocked by a lawsuit filed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and four US professional sports leagues.

The US Supreme Court is currently assessing whether to hear the case, having delayed making a final decision to allow new US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to give his opinion on the matter.

"Sports-betting is already happening across our state and across the country, but instead of being appropriately overseen and raising needed revenue for our casinos, racetracks, businesses, and the state, these bets are placed through illegal enterprises," Pallone explained.

"It is time to bring this activity out of the shadows," he said. "I am pleased to join Congressman LoBiondo in reintroducing these commonsense bills that would level the playing field and give New Jersey's citizens the opportunity to share in the profits from sports betting."

The proliferation of illegal betting in the US is particularly noticeable around the Super Bowl, which determines the NFL league champions, hence the timing of the pair's announcement.

The American Gaming Association estimates that around $4.7bn will be wagered on the game between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, due to take place on Sunday February 5th. Of this $4.7bn, the ASA believes 97 per cent will be wagered illegally.

LoBiondo said that this illegal betting, coupled with increased competition from neighbouring states, was eroding Atlantic City's gambling industry.

"I strongly believe that sports-betting can help give our famed resort town a hand up, providing yet another unique option for patrons in addition to the quality entertainment, dining, shopping and beaches," he said. "I'm pleased Congressman Pallone, our casinos, local elected officials and an overwhelming majority of New Jersey residents agree.

"Over the years we have made progress on bringing sports-betting to our state and I hope that a bipartisan coalition in Congress can come together in support of legalizing and regulating sports-betting," LoBiondo explained.

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