NJ Legislature looking to act quickly on sports betting

New Jersey lawmakers will move quickly to regulate legal sports betting, with the state Senate president eyeing the first week in June for legislative approval.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, said in a statement to The Press of Atlantic City the exact details of when sports betting will be ready to go in New Jersey are still being worked out, but he anticipates decisive action.

“We want to move quickly to capitalize on New Jersey’s advantages on this opportunity,” Sweeney wrote in an email. “The specific schedule still has to be set and we have to coordinate with the Assembly, but I expect to have the sports-betting bill approved by the Senate at our next session on June 7 so that sports gaming can be up and running as soon as the governor signs the bill.”

Sweeney is a primary sponsor of a Senate bill to auth-orize, regulate and tax sports wagering at the state’s casinos and racetracks. The legislation was introduced within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday declaring the federal ban on sports betting unconstitutional. Nearly identical bills have been introduced in both the Assembly and Senate, with the lower chamber’s version having been proposed May 7.

Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Burlington, Camden, said sports betting legalization is not a new concept in Trenton, so there is no reason to delay. Greenwald said he did not want to put a date on when the Assembly would deliberate the issue, but it would come up “certainly during the budget process.”

“From a business perspective, we should want to get this up and running quickly,” he said Tuesday evening. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here. We have strong gaming houses and institutions in New Jersey already.”

Greenwald acknowledged Trenton is aware other states could take advantage of the high court’s ruling. It has been reported that 32 other states are considering some form of legalized sports betting, including Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.

Gov. Phil Murphy, in a statement released Monday following the Supreme Court’s decision, said he looks “forward to working with the Legislature to enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future.”

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