New Jersey Votes on Online Gaming Bill; Outcome a Gamble

15 December 2012

According to an article on NorthJersey.com, New Jersey could be the first state in the US to offer online casino gambling–as long as its State Assembly and Governor Christie agree it’s a good move.

The bill, sponsored by New Jersey Assemblymen Burzichelli, Prieto, and Ramos, would legalize nearly all forms of online gambling in New Jersey. The state’s constitution identifies that no gambling shall take place in New Jersey outside of Atlantic City; therefore, all the servers for these intrastate casino sites would be housed in the states gambling mecca, and only those casinos who currently operate in Atlantic City would be allowed to operate them.

The games allowed would run the gamut of those found in brick-and-mortar casinos, including video poker, slot machines, and poker. Sports betting may also be included on the list, if and when the state win the legal battle with the nation’s major sports leagues.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the bill’s talking points:

  • Annual online gambling licenses will be required, costing $150,000 per year (after the first year, which starts at $200,000). Additional fees to the Department of Human Resources ($85,000) and problem gambling ($65,000) would also be due.
  • Annual taxes would also be assessed, to the tune of 10% on gross revenues (yes, before expenses).
  • Unlicensed operators, presumably including offshore companies that accept NJ players, would be subject to steep fines.
  • Federal law would supersede this proposed bill, which would mean all non-poker games would be made illegal should the Reid/Kyl bill pass.
  • Several problem gambling requirements and player restrictionsreside in this bill, which may fortify it against opponents who claim “living room gambling” heightens the risk of gambling addiction and social problems.

A historical note: In March 2011, Governor Christie vetoed a similar online gambling bill on the terms that the placement of servers in Atlantic City was not enough to satisfy the constitutions fairly clear intention. Now, with state casinos suffering from sluggish revenues and willing to support a measure that could be a lifeline to their industry, Governor Christie is expected to sign the bill should it pass the state Assembly on Monday. This new bill also rectifies several of Christie’s previous objections, including removing language that provided New Jersey racetracks with up to $30,000,000 in subsidies and adding language that prevents internet cafes from advertising online gambling.