New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak gave a keynote speech at this week’s Sports Betting USA Conference in New York, outlining his thoughts on the current state of the US sports betting sector and adding a few predictions as to its future direction.
Addressing delegates, he said: “I’m still recovering from my 12-year journey to bring legal sports betting to America, which was soothed when I placed the first winning legal sports bet in New Jersey, on France to win the World Cup. However, my predictions haven’t all panned out.
“When the NCAA, during our battle to legalize sports betting, banned all NCAA tournaments from being held in New Jersey because of our legal challenge, I stated, when we win and legalize sports betting in America, the only state that will be able to have an NCAA tournament will be Utah.”
That prediction proved wrong, he told the room. “I’m surprised sports betting hasn’t blossomed across America,” he said. “Just look at its results in New Jersey which quickly surpassed Nevada as the sports betting capital of America. Thousands of unemployed casino workers back at work and our racetracks saved from closure.
“In the past years, Atlantic City was a ghost town during Super Bowl week and the NCAA Tournament. If you haven’t booked your rooms there by now, give me a call. I know a guy.”
Turning to those states that have yet to fully embrace sports wagering, he added: “What mystifies me is why California hasn’t recognized the tourist boom that sports betting will bring to their betting parlors and why New York has turned its back on millions of dollars of revenue from online sports betting. Jeff Gural, owner of Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, a short drive from New York, asked me not to say anything to encourage New York to embrace sports betting.
“California is another story as the tribes don’t want to give up their piece of the action even though their action would be exponentially greater.”
The Senator then offered a series of predictions, with a disclaimer that his legal predictions would be more reliable than his political ones.
“Within two years New York will have online sports betting and a referendum amending California’s constitution to have sports betting will get voter approval,” he said. “My most worrisome fear is that the NFL will be in the mix to have its hand-out for federal regulation and taxation of sports betting. State governors and legislators need to keep their congressional representatives from supporting a federal takeover of sports betting.
“Back to my more proficient legal predictions, Sheldon Adelson and US Attorney William Barr will lose their appeals to reinterpret the Wire Act to apply to online gaming. That being said, I now change my prediction that New Jersey will be the Silicon Valley of online gaming. New Jersey has already reached that goal. Within five years, New Jersey will be the mecca of sports and online gaming. You can take that to the bank.”