Delaware’s entry into sports wagering and table games is a serious threat to the both the casino and horse racing industries in New Jersey," said Governor Corzine. "We must do everything in our power to stay competitive. We simply cannot afford to sit back and let neighbouring states press an unfair advantage against us anytime, and certainly not in the midst of this global economic crisis."
The legal action relates to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which prohibits any state except Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon from permitting sports betting of any kind.
Following its passage into law in 1991, the PASPA allowed all states including New Jersey a period of one year within which to pass legislation to allow sports betting, however the state failed to agree on legislation within the time period and became one of 46 states across the United States to be prohibited from offering sports betting to its residents.
"The federal government’s prohibition on sports betting for some but not all states is fundamentally unfair," added Corzine. "There should be uniformity in the application of federal law. If one state is allowed to legalise betting on sports events, all states should be allowed the same opportunity."
Governor Corzine is joining a lawsuit initiated in March by state Senator Raymond Lesniak together with the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) and a number of horse racing groups. The suit asserts that federal law unconstitutionally regulates commerce and discriminates against states were sports betting is forbidden.
"Sports betting in the U.S. is unregulated, untaxed and illegal," said Lesniak. "Rather than supporting thousands of jobs, economic activity and tourism, the federal ban supports offshore operators and organised crime."
According to estimates, as much as us$ 10 billion could be bet on sports annually in New Jersey if the activity were legal and could generate us$ 100 million in much needed tax revenues for the state.
If successful in overturning the ban, New Jersey would seek to allow sports betting at casinos, racetracks and betting parlours as well as via the internet and telephone.