NEW YORK (WFAN) — New Jersey State Sen. Ray Lesniak says he’ll be placing a bet — legally — on the NFL, one way or another.
On Monday, if the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the state’s sports betting appeal, Lesniak is confident a ruling will clear the way for legalized sports betting in the Garden State.
If the Supreme Court declines, Lesniak is prepared to introduce legislation that would amend state law and sanction sports betting in N.J.’s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos in time for Week 1 of the NFL season. And he expects it to pass and be signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
“I’m not saying ‘One day.’ I’m saying September,” Lesniak said Thursday on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show. “We’re going ahead, kind of just like Colorado and Washington went ahead with legalized marijuana.”
Lesniak said he’d “be the first one to place a bet on the Giants covering the spread against the Lions” on Sept. 8 at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
“If they accept the appeal, we’ll back off and wait until they make a final decision. Because the odds are, if they accept our appeal, they’re going to rule in our favor,” he said. “I’d rather not risk the chance of the Justice Department arresting me while I’m at Monmouth Park (making a bet).”
A sports betting referendum was passed by voters in 2011. But the four major U.S. team sports — including the NFL — and the NCAA filed suit in 2012 after the state allowed betting in its casinos and racetracks. In September, a federal appeals court ruled against N.J., upholding a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp.
Lesniak said if bets aren’t being made legally in Nevada, the money is going “to organized crime and to offshore betting rings.”
“Let’s get it done now and accept reality as it is,” he said.
Lesniak is also pushing for casinos outside of Atlantic County, and said it could be on the ballot in November. He said the state is “missing out on a big opportunity” with the much-maligned Xanadu retail-and-entertainment project — now known as “American Dream” — in the Meadowlands.
“I think we’re going to see some action on that soon,” Lesniak said.
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