September 9, 2014
By NJ AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech
For more than two decades, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO has supported sports wagering in Atlantic City. Sports betting is estimated at $500 billion annually in the United States. Unfortunately most of that goes to organized crime, off-shore gambling havens and Las Vegas – not New Jersey.
At a time when Atlantic City is struggling, we can’t give up the fight to support our casino workers. The fact remains that Atlantic City casino’s need to diversify and they need to adapt to a changing market – they need to be able to enter the sports betting market.
Recently, State Senator Ray Lesniak, the prime sponsor of legislation seeking to allow sports betting in the state, stated that “during Super Bowl week, every long weekend during the NFL season, the NCAA tournament and major sporting events, you can’t get a room in Las Vegas while Atlantic City is a ghost town.” Why are we not allowing Atlantic City to compete in the sports betting market? Why are we turning our backs on valuable potential tax revenue and tourism dollars? Why are we not trying every option available to help Atlantic City and its workforce?
These are the questions we need to be asking Governor Christie since he vetoed Senator Lesniak’s bill last month. The bill passed both houses with overwhelming bipartisan support – only seven legislators voted no.
We have another opportunity to change course and enact this legislation. Senator Lesniak wants to override the Governor’s veto. We support his effort and urge our legislators to stand with casino workers and their employers and do the same.