A bipartisan group of elected officials this morning at the Irish Pub in Atlantic City made their case for legalized sports betting.
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), Senator Jim Whelan (D-2), Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-2), and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, a Republican, affirmed that sports betting during college basketball’s March Madness would bring millions of dollars into Atlantic City and the state’s economy.
“At a time of the year when the region’s tourism could use a boost, the hotels and casinos would be filled. Restaurants and bars, like the Irish Pub, would be overflowing with people and the boardwalk would be filled with visitors,” Sweeney said. “It’s a flat out win for our state and we hope the Supreme Court will recognize that.”
“There is no question that this time of year could transform Atlantic City if the courts would allow sports betting in New Jersey. We are talking about thousands of people coming into the region for weeks. The benefit to Atlantic City in terms of jobs and revenue is about more than just legal briefs and court arguments: it’s about the livelihood of an entire town,” said Whelan.
Las Vegas news outlets report that in 2013, March saw the highest total visitors to Las Vegas at 3.53 million. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, occupancy rates at hotels were as high as 98 percent during March Madness. In 2012, Las Vegas casinos generate an estimated $100 million in revenue from sports betting during the NCAA tournament, according to reports.
“Las Vegas is jammed this time of year, while Atlantic City struggles to draw people in during the cold days of winter and spring,” said Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20), the state’s leading advocate for legalized sports betting. “We are urging the Supreme Court to not only take up the case, but to right this wrong. Why should Nevada get all the benefits of something that everyone in the country is doing one way or another? The Court could strike a huge blow here for Atlantic City and New Jersey.”
In 2011, voters approved sports wagering in New Jersey. A year later the governor signed legislation legalizing sports betting in New Jersey, drawing immediate legal action from the major pro sports and the NCAA. The case has gone through the U.S. District Court and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, both of whom ruled against the state. The case is currently awaiting action by the United States Supreme Court, which has not announced whether it will take it up or not.