NJ Congressman, Sports Betting Proponent Frank LoBiondo to Retire

In a statement on Wednesday in which he expressed dismay with gridlock in the United States Congress and political polarization, New Jersey Representative Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2) announced that he will run for reelection in 2018. The 12-term Republican incumbent, whose district includes Atlantic City, has been a proponent for legalized sports betting in New Jersey and called the matter a “priority” of his. But he has had enough of Washington D.C.

“People before politics has always been my philosophy and my motivation,” LoBiondo said in the statement. “Regrettably, our nation is now consumed by increasing political polarization; there is no longer middle ground to honestly debate issues and put forward solutions.”

New Jersey Congressman LoBiondo, Sports Betting Proponent and Representative for Atlantic City’s District, Will Not Run for Reelection in 2018

In an interview with SportsHandle in September, the Congressman discussed the Supreme Court Sports Betting case (Christie v NCAA) and called into question the NFL’s stance against sports betting.

“That’s softened a little bit but the NFL is still mind boggling how they’re trying to suggest that there’s no illegal betting going on and that sports betting would be bad,” Mr. LoBiondo said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to continue to try to convince people that they’re on the wrong side of it.”

The Congressman elaborated on his decision to retire at the end of his current term:

As some of my closest colleagues have also come to realize, those of us who came to Congress to change Washington for the better through good governance are now the outliers. In legislating, we previously fought against allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Today a vocal and obstinate minority within both parties has hijacked good legislation in pursuit of no legislation.

Mr. LoBiondo may face more of that obstinance in Congress as he and Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1) seek support for a review of PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). The New Jersey representatives collected signatures in October for a letter urging the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings to examine the 1992 law which effectively bans sports betting outside Nevada, citing the growing illegal market for sports betting and a lack of consumer protections and potential state revenue.

In light of Mr. LoBiondo’s announcement, Republican and Democratic leaders will begin jockeying for the seat (possibly retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood for the Dems, who launched her bid in July) in a district that has more registered Democrat but has supported Mr. LoBiondo for over two decades.

Given the location of the district in New Jersey’s gambling capital, it seems likely that any candidate to emerge will be a proponent for sports betting. But with the same fervor as LoBiondo? Of course the Congressman’s term may see high court striking down PASPA — a decision is expected by the spring of 2018 — with possible Congressional action to follow. Stay tuned.

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