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Former State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth)

Sweeney taps Lesniak to take on Justice Department

Former senator will challenge new online gaming ruling

By David Wildstein, January 21 2019 10:13 am

Former State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), the state’s leading advocate of legalized sports betting and online gaming, will help his former colleagues with a request that the Justice Department reconsider its opinion that makes the Wire Act applicable to any form of gambling that crosses state lines.

Lesniak’s new role as special counsel to the Senate will be pro bono, according to a statement released by Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“The new Justice Department opinion threatens the significant boost enjoyed by New Jersey casinos, the jobs and state revenues from online gaming and it could have a negative impact on sports betting at our casinos and racetracks,” said Sweeney. “We don’t want to lose the hard fought gains that are helping to revive Atlantic City and the state’s gaming industry.”

Sweeney says online gaming generated nearly $300 million in 2018 revenue.

“It looks like I will have to go to court again to straighten out the Justice Department’s overreaching on states’ rights, just as I did with sports betting,” said Lesniak. “This opinion is outrageous.  If Congress won’t fix it, I will through the judicial process.”

Lesniak served in the Legislature for 40 years until stepping down in 2017 to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.

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