There is only one public question on the Nov. 8 ballot:

Should the New Jersey Constitution be amended to allow the Legislature, if permitted by federal law, to authorize wagering in Atlantic City's casinos and at the state's four racetracks on professional and certain college athletic events?

We've voiced our skepticism over the years about how successful sports betting would or wouldn't be in revitalizing Atlantic City.

Before it can happen, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 - which limited sports betting to the four states that had previously offered it - must be overturned. And if that federal hurdle is eliminated, every state will have the ability to offer sports betting.

Furthermore, the proposed constitutional amendment notably includes the state's racetracks - Atlantic City will not even have a monopoly in the state on sports betting.

But none of that is a reason to vote no on this year's public question, and The Press urges voters to approve the measure.

It sure can't hurt.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the Union County Democrat who has pushed sports betting, plans to file a suit in federal court to overturn the 1992 law if voters approve the amendment.

An earlier suit was thrown out when a federal judge ruled that New Jersey did not have legal standing to bring the case, but voter approval would give the state that standing. And legal experts believe Lesniak's suit has a good chance of succeeding. The argument is that the 1992 law is an unconstitutional restraint of commerce.

With Atlantic City casino revenue down 30 percent in recent years because of increased competition, anything that can help must be tried. Sports betting would increase gaming revenue in the state by $200 million a year, some estimates show - and could be a huge boost for nongaming revenue in the resort on weekends when big games are being played. And, let's not forget the increase in state tax revenue that sports betting would generate.

Last year's Super Bowl produced $87.5 million in sports bets in Las Vegas and an almost equal amount in nongaming revenue.

So let's go for it. We certainly have no moral qualms about sports betting, considering how widespread it already is, legally and illegally. Interestingly, this time around, the professional sports leagues don't seem to be lobbying against the measure.

The proposed amendment also specifically bans bets on any athletic event that takes place in New Jersey or in which a New Jersey college team is playing. That seems unnecessary to us - but it may help the measure win some more votes.

The 1992 federal law initially gave New Jersey one year to approve sports betting. But shamefully, the state's Republicans, immersed at the time in a hotly contested race for governor, refused to let a sports-betting measure come to a vote out of a fear it would increase Democratic turnout in the election.

On Nov. 8, New Jersey voters can correct that unfortunate misstep.

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