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Christie Advances Sports-Betting Plan in Face of Federal Ban

Christie Advances Sports-Betting Plan in Face of Federal Ban
Visitors watch a simulcast horse race at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photographer: Jeff Zelevansky/Bloomberg

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’ll move ahead with plans to legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks by November even as he faces a possible legal challenge from the federal government.

Christie, 49, a first-term Republican, told reporters today in Atlantic City that his administration will propose regulations next week authorizing sports-book wagering in Atlantic City and at horse tracks.

Allowing casinos to take bets on professional and college sports, as they do in Las Vegas, would provide Atlantic City with a new option to lure customers, Christie said. The city’s gambling houses have suffered as increased competition from neighboring Pennsylvania saps its base.

“It will be another exciting way to add to the experience here in Atlantic City, and I know this is something people have been waiting for for a long time,” Christie said today on the Atlantic City boardwalk. “We’ll be ready to go, I hope, this fall with a whole new phase of gaming.”

The federal government has outlawed the expansion of sports wagering under a 1992 moratorium that restricted it to Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Christie signed a bill in January allowing the state to move ahead with the plan.

“We intend to go forward and allow sports gambling to happen,” Christie said. “If someone wants to stop us, then they’ll have to take action to try and stop us.”

In November, New Jersey voters passed a ballot measure supporting sports betting at casinos and tracks, 64 percent to 36 percent. Professional leagues such as the National Basketball Association have traditionally opposed legalizing sports wagering.

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