(Reuters) - For half a decade, New Jersey tried in vain to convince U.S. courts to let it legalize sports betting, dreaming of the billions of dollars it might generate for a struggling state and its cash-strapped casino hub Atlantic City.
On Monday, that long bet finally paid off. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with New Jersey, striking down a 1992 federal law banning most sports wagering.
The ruling opened the door for other states to also consider authorizing sports wagers.
Within hours of the high court’s decision, New Jersey lawmakers said they had introduced measures to begin building the framework for regulating legal sports betting. Some legislators seemed downright giddy.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said state Assembly Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli, who has long pushed for the measures. “This is nothing but good news for New Jersey.”
New Jersey first tried to legalize sports betting in 2012 during then Governor Chris Christie’s first term.
Bills introduced on Monday by Democrats in the state Senate would allow casinos, racetracks and some former racetracks to conduct wagering on both professional and collegiate sporting events.
However, betting on college games taking place in New Jersey, and on competitions anywhere involving a New Jersey college, would be prohibited.
The law would charge an 8 percent gross revenue tax on in-person wagering and a 12.5 percent levy on online sports bets. Host cities and counties would get another 1.25 percent tax on the gaming revenue received by racetracks.
Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam said on Monday that sports betting could generate “millions in revenue” for the city and diversify its gaming market.
“The economic impact is vast and unlimited,” said Daniel Wallach, a Florida sports and gambling attorney who has closely followed the case.
Additional visitors to casinos and other ancillary revenues will boost the impact beyond just revenues generated for the state and city, he said.
Atlantic City fell into fiscal crisis when several casinos closed after the city lost its monopoly on East Coast gambling and other states began to lure New Jersey’s players.
After years of state oversight, tight budgets and chaotic politics, the city has begun to recover financially.
Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker