TRENTON – State legislators this afternoon backed up U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) in his quest to lift a federal ban that would allow the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey.
“Clearly the people have spoken,” said Pallone, referring to a 2-1 referendum in favor of sports betting here. “I think it has a good chance of passing. It may not go as a free-standing bill, but I am determined to get it passed.
The veteran congressman’s cross-the-aisle colleague, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2), wants to give all states a chance to legalize sports betting.
“I welcome working with him,” said Pallone, who favors specifically targeting New Jersey with his legislation, but who believes his and LoBiondo’s are reconcilable.
“The best chance to have integrity is to have the process vetted,” said state Sen. Jim Whelan, (D-2), Atlantic City.
“Four years ago I sent a letter to the delegation and didn’t get a response,” said longtime sports betting advocate state Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, who moved to take New Jersey to federal court to affrm the state right to legalize sports betting.
Now Pallone’s and LoBiondo’s efforts affirm that the times have changed.
“The senator will prevail in the courts if we don’t prevail in Congress,” state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, (D-1), Dennis Township, said of Lesniak’s efforts.
“There’s no reason we can’t do two things: repeal the prohibition and go to court,” Pallone said.