Pending referendum, Christie ready for sports betting push with Lesniak

JERSEY CITY – Polls indicate that a voter referendum to allow sports betting in New Jersey will pass next week, and Gov. Chris Christie said he is ready to team up with legislative champion state Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), of Elizabeth, if it does.

If the voters approve the measure, Christie said he’ll be “sitting down with Sen. Lesniak and others (to talk) about how we’re going to implement the will of the people.”

“I’m voting ‘yes’ on it,” the governor said. “I think it’s important for New Jersey to have this option.”

Recalling an anecdote from a New York Giants game, Christie said, “Gaming is surrounding us everywhere.” Walking out of the game, a man expressed to the governor his joy over the team winning, but his despair that they didn’t cover for his parlay.

Joking in his incredulousness, Christie said honestly, “I don’t think any of us is of the illusion” that gambling isn’t happening in the state.

“Let’s get that economy up from underground,” he said. “Let’s have the people who benefit from it be the people of the state of New Jersey,” not individuals involved in organized crime.

“With this referendum we have an opportunity,” he said, that gives the state more solid footing to challenge the federal ban on sports wagering outside of a few select places. “If it fails, obviously I won’t have any interest in pursuing it.”

Pending referendum, Christie ready for sports betting push with Lesniak