Gov. Christie has been said to be in agreement with a bill to allow the state Casino Control Commission to issue licenses to casinos and racetracks to accept bets on some professional and collegiate events giving allowance to horse tracks and casinos and their partners the opportunity to offer sports betting.

Tony Rodio, president and chief executive officer of Tropicana Casino and Resort, stated sports betting would be “a tremendous boost” for Atlantic City by adding another attraction for gaming customers.

“There is such an influx of people into Las Vegas with those high-profile sports-betting events,” he said using the Super Bowl and other major events as examples on how Atlantic City will benefit.

The Casino Association of New Jersey, a trade group representing Atlantic City’s gaming industry, called the legislation “an important first step” in efforts to legalize sports betting.

“If and when the federal ban is overturned, this law would permit casinos to accept wagers on sporting events, adding another amenity to enhance our ability to compete and grow as a destination resort,” Bob Griffin, the association’s president, said in a statement. “Legalized sports betting would provide an economic boost for Atlantic City and the entire state of New Jersey as it would attract more tourists to our city and its world-class entertainment, thriving restaurants, brand-name retail shopping and famous Boardwalk.”

“You have to be realistic,” state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, said after the bill cleared the state Senate. “It’s not going to have the impact that it would have had had we been able to get it passed 20 years ago when it was first proposed.”

He said he believed that if the federal courts found the law unconstitutional, then it would open the door to sports betting in all 50 states. This proposal gets New Jersey ready for that possibility.

Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who sponsored an earlier version of the bill in the Assembly, said sports wagering has the potential to transform Atlantic City’s casinos and New Jersey’s horse tracks, and would make the state the premier East Coast gaming destination.

A news release from state Senate Democrats cited figures from Club CalNeva, a Las Vegas-based company that operated more than 30 sports books, in estimating that the new measure could bring $1.3 billion in sports wagering gross revenues and $120 million in tax revenue to the Garden State

Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said “now to finally see it get closer to the finish line, after about a decade, is a good feeling.”

The legislation was approved 35-2 in the Senate and passed 73-0 in the Assembly.

Reported by Maggie B.

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