New Jersey pushes ahead in the online gaming race with Nevada, to become the first US state to offer internet gambling. A state Assembly panel approved a bill Thursday that could allow Atlantic City casinos to accept online wagers from out-of-state and international markets.
The Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee approved a similar bill last month and both measures now go for full votes in their respective chambers, before the state Legislature takes its summer recess in July. The decision of whether wagers can be taken from other states and even other countries needs to be determined before online gaming can become legal in New Jersey.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, co-sponsor of the bill, said, “We must position New Jersey’s gaming industry to thrive in the 21st Century and that involves authorizing a legally sound Internet gaming law. This is another key piece of our effort to boost New Jersey’s gaming industry by expanding and modernizing our wagering options.
A move to establish a regulated online gaming industry in New Jersey is at full throttle as lawmakers want to revamp Atlantic City back to the top of the gambling tree. The state was poised to offer online gaming last year, but a proposed bill was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.
“Here’s my view on it,” said Christie, “I think New Jersey should be in that business. I think we should be an epicentre for that business, but I want to do it right.”
Lawmakers, spearheaded by State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, took a number of steps to address the concerns and amended terms of the bill. Changes have made it only possible for existing land-based operators in the state, or business collaborations with those operators, to apply for an online license.
Technology running the operations would be regularly validated and detailed reports would need to be submitted to mitigate underage gambling, ensure games are fair and truly randomised, and that all bets are placed within the state limits.
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos Jr., said, “The internet has long been a reality and the internet gaming in New Jersey should now be a reality too. We have to move aggressively and thoughtfully to position our gaming industry to succeed and this is another step toward that goal.”
Since the DoJ announced its position on US internet gambling last year, several states have introduced online gambling bills to offer intra-state gambling and establish a regulated industry once federal legislation permits.
Lawmakers emphasise that first to market could be key once online gaming in the US unfolds. Establishing an effective regulatory framework would give the state prime standing in the potentially billion dollar market.
“It could be billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs if we are established first – we are in a race with Nevada,” commented Senator Lesniak.
Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts and President of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said to the assembly, “The state of New Jersey must be in the forefront of legalising this emerging marketplace…
…Currently, millions of Americans engage in online gaming with illegal offshore operators with no oversight, no regulation and no consumer protection. The state should regulate this activity, enforce strict standards to ensure the games are fair and collect revenue rather than allow profits and jobs to illegally go overseas.”