We recieved such a great response fron James Hogan’s last piece we are bringing you some more of his insights.
There is an election in less then one week, and no one seems to care.Voter turnout is expected to be low, Governor Christie has been rather silent in endorsing and pushing Republican candidates despite his popularity and successes and as sample ballots began to arrive, the few folks who didn’t just toss them in the trash have been trying to understand the public question.
The question as it appears on the ballot reads as follows:
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 or former running and harness horse racetracks on the results of professional, certain college, or amateur sport or athletic events, be approved?
The interpretive statement reads:
This constitutional amendment would authorize the Legislature to pass laws allowing sports wagering at Atlantic City casinos and at racetracks. Wagers could be placed on professional, certain college, or amateur sport or athletic events. However, wagers could not be placed on college games that take place in New Jersey or in which a New Jersey college team participates regardless of where the game takes place. A wager could be placed at a casino or racetrack either in-person or from any other location through an account wagering system that uses telephone, Internet or other means.
For once, the question itself seems rather simple and straight forward, I suspect most people who take the time to read it will answer Yes but I could be surprised..
Unfortunately, the real issues here don’t appear to be so simple, and a Yes, or a No, may or may not mean much. Having tried to do some research through my short contact list, it seemed impossible to get someone to answer what seemed like a few simple questions. None of my contacts seemed to have the time to provide what may have been political science 101 crash course for me, one noted “it’s just not that simple”, another said “who cares about the public question?” and one told me “just vote Yes, but it won’t matter”. Two different sources provided me with a link to this wiki page (http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/New_Jersey_Sports_Betting_Amendment,_Public_Question_1_(2011)) that seemed to explain the issue a little better.
Based on the information I was able to get from my short list of contacts, and the wiki page, it seems to come down to:
Yes — NJ gets to spend time and money fighting a court battle, likely all of the way up to the Supreme Court, and then if and when a federal restriction is lifted, then the state Legislature can write a bill and change the state law. Essentially a Yes next Tuesday means maybe some year much later in my expected lifetime, we’ll have a debate and vote in Trenton to legalize sports betting.
No — NJ continues on like all but 4 other states where sports betting is legal. Maybe or maybe not related: Nevada, one of the states where sports betting is legal, has the nation’s highest unemployment level at 13.4%. The other states, Montana, Oregon and Delaware have unemployment rates of 7.7%, 9.6% and 8.1% respectively compared to NJ’s 9.2% so I doubt that sports betting solves the slow economy problem and I suspect No votes would be more of a protest vote against a less than important issue for most struggling taxpayers.
Also worth noting, a Yes or a No for sports betting has nothing at all to do with the issue of VLTs at Monmouth Park or the Meadowlands, it would just make betting on sports games legal, after that federal law changes, if it changes. It seems a bit disingenuous for the state Legislature to be giving the appearance of working so hard to bring gambling tourism money into the state through sports betting when it can’t even get legislation that would bring gambling tourism money into the state through VLTs and slots at our own racetracks on the floor and up for a vote. With that, it’s easy for me to understand why voters are angry or apathetic, and planning to stay home.