ICE North America: Former New Jersey lawmaker recognized for efforts in PASPA fight Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · May 15, 2019 at 1:51 pm BOSTON – Former New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak was strutting around like a rock star at ICE North America. He isn’t shy about accepting the accolades. Lesniak, the keynote speaker at the conference at the Boston Convention Center, introduced legislation in his state to legalize sports betting for racetracks and casinos. The move set in motion a more than five-year legal challenge of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Former New Jersey lawmaker Ray Lesniak When the U.S. Supreme Court a year ago this week struck down the 1992 federal law, it paved the way for the spread of single-game sports betting outside of Nevada. So far, 11 states have legalized sports betting. New Jersey was the second state to launch after Delaware. Lesniak recently released a book: BEATING THE ODDS: The Epic Battle that Brought Legal Sports Betting Across America. He did a book signing, served on a panel discussion, and offered his keynote remarks. Speakers during panel discussions made a point to praise Lesniak’s efforts and the ramifications it’s had on the sports betting landscape. Others have come up to him and said thank you. “I’m being treated as a hero which I appreciate because I started the battle for sports betting way before anybody gave me a chance and generated a whole new industry for America,” Lesniak said. Lesniak said since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA a year ago, he said he thought sports betting would have spread to even more states. Recent additions include Iowa, Indiana and Montana. A handful of states may come on board by the end of 2019 and into 2020. “I thought it was going to be faster,” said Lesniak, who has retired from public office. “It was an 11-year battle for me, and I predicted when the NCAA cancelled tournaments in New Jersey because we were fighting for sports betting, I said publicly that when we win this case the NCAA won’t be able to play these events in any state other than Utah. I’m surprised other states haven’t expanded into sports betting as quickly as I thought.” Lesniak said part of the problem is some states don’t have enough of a gambling infrastructure with casinos. Politicians who have a moral trepidation about gambling are unwilling to back it. “It makes no sense to me because people are betting illegally all the time anyway,” Lesniak said. Lesniak said he doesn’t see the Federal Wire Act, which prohibits interstate sports wagering, as “much of a threat” to sports betting because the U.S. Department of Justice would have to expand its enforcement for mobile and online gaming within a state. “Unless they start playing cute,” Lesniak said. “If someone in New Jersey places a bet in the state, the transmission may go into Pennsylvania. They could use that as a basis, which could really muck up the works. I really hope not.” Lesniak said New York has been slow to adopt sports betting because Governor Andrew Cuomo has not been a big fan of sports betting. That’s one state that disappoints him. However, it means New Yorkers can come to New Jersey to place bets at the Meadowlands. Within the next five years, Lesniak said most states will have sports betting and “will join the rest of the world where American residents can have access to safe and reliable gambling.” Lesniak said his one concern is how it will be important that there is a pooling of information between states because that’s the best way to detect potential fixes by identifying unusual betting patterns. That’s what is done at the stock market to deal with insider trading, he said. A year after PASPA was struck down, Lesniak said he still feels elated and recalls his interest being sparked by a friend that was arrested for placing a few bets for himself and some friends with an illegal bookmaker. Those charges were dropped but he suffered consequences anyway, Lesniak said. “Now we have a dying racetrack and casino industry that’s been brought back to life because of sports betting so I’m happy,” Lesniak said.