On November 8th there is one lone ballot question:
Shall the amendment to Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the state of New Jersey, agreed to by the Legislature, providing that it shall be lawful for the Legislature to authorize by law wagering at casinos or gambling houses in Atlantic City and at current and former running and harness horse racetracks on the results of professional, certain college, or amateur sport or athletic events, be approved?
If approved by the voters this bill will potentially place New Jersey law at odds with federal law. In 1993 the federal government banned sports betting nationwide with an exception for four states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana) because at the time those states had recognized legal betting.
This federal law, the "Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act" is another example of the federal government stretching the intent of the commerce clause well beyond its original intentions. The federal government now asserts power over the states with our education system, drug laws, wheat production, gun laws, and many other facets of our lives.
The history of the federal court in recognizing a reliable boundary of the scope of the commerce clause has been haphazard. In the 1995 United States vs. Lopez case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the 1990 Gun Free School Zones Act was unconstitutional and was beyond the reach of the U. S. Congress under the commerce clause. However in the 2005 Gonzales vs. Reich case, the courts held that the federal government can still charge care givers and patients for the use and sale of medical marijuana even if the state has legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
If this ballot question passes the State Assembly will need to assert its 10th Amendment right of nullification. SR19 has passed the State Senate. This bill authorizes the State Senate President to take legal action against the federal government concerning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, described above. The companion bill AR43 has not yet passed the Assembly.
While, I urge everyone to vote in favor of this ballot initiative, I'd bet (illegally if need be) that this is going to pass by a wide margin and our assembly is going to cave and never implement it. I'd also bet that if it does pass, our assembly will over regulate sports betting. New Jersey politicians have a history of listening too much to corporate lobbyists and drafting gambling legislation that only gives certain businesses and organizations freedom at the expense of others.