On Election Day, New Jersey residents will determine the gambling future for the state. Officials are attempting to pass a referendum that will overturn the laws against sports betting. Each voter will be given the option to either vote for or against this referendum. If the majority favors this referendum, the process towards making sports betting legal in Atlantic City will begin.
Brushing aside old arguments about the potential for corruption, New Jersey lawmakers are now more concerned about generating revenue for the state. The revenue would primarily go towards improving Atlantic City casinos, which would essentially help contribute to the growth of the city as a whole. According to one article, overturning the existing law could produce an estimated $200 million in extra revenue for Atlantic City. However, the chairman of the state gambling committee, Senator, Jim Whelan has made it known that if the referendum does pass this money will be used to benefit the state as a whole. The specific details of how the money will be distributed have yet to be determined.
Atlantic City is not generally known for being clean, safe or nice. The crime rates there are higher than those of any other gambling city. Just walking down certain streets in Atlantic City can be incredibly dangerous. This past September, in the space of two weeks, there were both a fatal carjacking as well as a murder of a 28-year-old Middlesex County resident. Atlantic City has only recently been revamped in order to attempt to provide a safer environment for its tourists. Clearly, a lot more work needs to be done.
If this referendum is passed, that estimated $200 million could become a reality for New Jersey. That is $200 million that New Jersey does not already have. Since Atlantic City is already very well equipped for those with the gambling mindset, I really do not see a problem with adding sports betting to the mix.
People are already willing to go to Atlantic City to sink their money into gambling on slot machines and at tables. Most casino-goers are well aware they are taking the risk of leaving the city with a lot less money than they came with. Yet that does not seem to faze them in the least. We already know that people bet on sporting events. They do so illegally, but nevertheless it still takes place. So why not just make it legal? People will no longer be able to get in trouble for it, which will motivate more people to actually do it. And if New Jersey has more people placing bets, that means New Jersey is also going to have an increase in tax dollars.
So if a decline in revenue will not be the issue here, why should the government not permit sports betting? At the not-so-expensive cost of this benefiting the state, they would be foolish to turn this down. If the outcomes of this new legislation include the opportunities to clean up the city, ensure that it becomes a safer place and provide all of New Jersey with added annual revenue, I question why we have not considered doing this sooner