iMEGA Testifies Before NJ Gaming and Tourism Committee

03 February 2010

A bill was introduced earlier this month by New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak which would regulate and legalize intrastate internet gambling. The bill specifically mentions online poker. Taking no chances, Lesniak also introduced a separate bill calling for a referendum to permit sports betting.

Items discussed at the hearing included the legality of internet gambling and sports betting in the U.S., reasons New Jersey should allow casino-based online gambling, and how to alleviate problems associated with problem gambling.

The New Jersey Senate Gaming and Tourism Committee held a hearing on Monday on whether or not to legalize online sports betting and internet gambling. Officials from the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) were there.

iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan stated that the hearing went well and he then spent the rest of the day talking to Republican and Democratic legislators about the intrastate internet gambling bill. This coming Monday, the committee will meet to talk about both measures and maybe approve one or even both of them.

Lesniak’s bill calls for licensed internet gambling companies to be taxed at a 20% rate. Land based casinos are taxed at 8%. The internet casinos would have to pay an up front initial licensing fee of $200,000 along with an annual renewal fee of $100,000. An additional $100,000 annual fee will be charged to online casinos to pay for a program to help compulsive gamblers.

Pressure is rising on New Jersey officials to do something about online gaming. Pennsylvania’s revenue from slot machines grew by 39% in January, while Delaware recently passed legislation allowing table games to be played in it’s casinos. New Jersey’s land based casinos have been losing gaming revenue

Also testifying at the hearing were officials form Harrah’s, which opposes both bills, and representatives from New Jersey’s horse racing industry.

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