Whelan moves sports betting bill at NJ racetracks

As the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee passed a bill today proposing a constitutional amendment that would authorize the Legislature to allow in-person and Internet wagering on sporting events, Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Vince Polistina questioned why the interests of Atlantic City were not represented by the committee’s chairman, Sen. James Whelan, D-Atlantic.

“As Atlantic City’s economy continues to decline, Senator Whelan chose to let his committee pass a bill without lifting a finger to help the casinos,” said Polistina, R-Atlantic. “The appropriate venue for sports wagering is in the casinos. Sen. Whelan must not realize the district he represents is suffering economically and struggling to survive. He is gambling with the future of one of South Jersey’s most important industries at a time when we can’t afford to roll those dice.”

The bill, SCR49, is sponsored by Senators Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, and Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May. Its counterpart in the Assembly, ACR98, was scheduled to be heard in the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, but was held at the last minute.

“I am prepared to offer an amendment to ACR98 that would only permit sports betting in casinos,” said Polistina, who is a member of the committee. “Unlike the senator representing Atlantic County, I believe that my top priority is to help my constituents. With revenues declining, development at a near standstill and an unemployment rate significantly higher than the state average of 10 percent, the area needs an advocate who knows how to help. From the results in today’s senate committee, Sen. Whelan does not have the answers that address the concerns of his constituents.”

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