NJ state Senate president Steve Sweeney, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and Atlantic County state Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo discuss the benefits of sports betting at a press conference at the Irish Pub in Atlantic City.

On the eve of March Madness, state leaders were in Atlantic City today touting the economic boon that sports betting would bring the state if it were legalized.

 Elected officials criticized the fact that sports betting is widely accepted and discussed during tournaments such as March Madness when many buy in to office pools, yet it’s still illegal in the state. New Jersey voters approved a referendum allowing sports betting, but the state was later slapped with a lawsuit by professional and collegiate leagues.

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After suffering several defeats in federal court, the state is awaiting a decision on whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case.

“Let’s recognize the hypocrisy,” state Sen. Jim Whelan said during a press conference at the Irish Pub in Atlantic City on Wednesday. “(The sports leagues) act like Louie in Casablanca. They’re shocked to find out gambling is going on.”

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he believes the state has at least a 50/50 chance of the Supreme Court taking the case. He said the state’s defeats to date in its quest have not been unexpected.

“We thought from the very beginning, we’d end up in the Supreme Court,” Sweeney said.


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