On Monday, the Supreme Court fired off a legal middle finger to New Jersey’s effort to legalizing betting on sports. That same day, a New Jersey legislator responded with both barrels.
State Senator Ray Lesniak plans to introduce Thursday a bill that ostensibly would tiptoe around the federal law banning sports gambling.
Specifically, Lesniak plans not to legalize sports wagering in New Jersey, but to simply de-criminalize it.
“I expect that the U.S. Justice Department will refrain from intervening, as they have with Colorado and Washington when those states legalized marijuana,” Lesniak said.
A potential problem arises from the intention to lift the ban on sports gambling at only the state’s racetracks and casinos, and not generally. Another potential problem arises from the fact that, while there’s no billion-dollar entity with the juice or the will to get the Justice Department to enforce federal laws regarding marijuana in Colorado and Denver, the NFL can and will take an aggressive stand against legalized sports betting in a state where two of the league’s franchises play their games.
Still, Lezniak remains confident to the point of strident. To the point of defiant.
“Monmouth Park will be ready to go in September,” Ledniak said, via the Press of Atlantic City, “and I’ll be there to place the first bet.”
The only question will be whether the feds arrest him before or after he actually places it.
Before it ever gets to that point, the bill must pass both houses of the legislature, and Governor Chris Christie (pictured) will have to sign it into law. For now, Christie doesn’t seem to have the will to pick a far more aggressive fight against the federal government.
“[T]hat’s the way it goes,” Christie said Monday regarding the Supreme Court’s refusal to take up the case, via the Associated Press. “Nothing more I can say. They said ‘no’ so we have to move on.”
Which means that folks in New Jersey who want to bet on football will just have to keep calling their bookies.