New Jersey Lawmakers Legalize Online Gambling

New Jersey is just a Governor’s signature away from becoming the third state in the country to legalize online betting:

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey legislators gave final approval Tuesday to a bill legalizing gambling over the Internet, sending it to Gov. Chris Christie, who has indicated he will sign it quickly.

The state Assembly and Senate passed an updated version of the bill that Christie vetoed on Feb. 7, making the changes he asked for including setting a 10-year trial period for online betting, and raising the taxes on the Atlantic City casinos’ online winnings.

Assuming Christie signs the bill — he said last week he would do so quickly if the legislature made the changes he wanted — New Jersey would become the third state in the nation to legalize gambling over the Internet. It also would represent the largest expansion of legalized gambling in New Jersey since the first casino began operating in Atlantic City in 1978.

Nevada and Delaware have passed laws legalizing Internet betting, which also is going on offshore, untaxed and unregulated.

“Finally, some good news for Atlantic City’s future,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, one of the strongest proponents of online gambling. “Internet gaming will give an immediate boost to the outlook for Atlantic City’s future, preventing the closing of at least one casino, and saving thousands of jobs. Now we can get to work making Atlantic City the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming by being the hub for other states to join.”

The idea is to help the struggling casinos by attracting new gamblers who are not now visiting the casinos. The comps, like free hotel rooms, show tickets, meals or other freebies, would be accrued from online play, but would have to be redeemed in person at a casino, presumably enticing a player to spend more money while there.

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The bill would allow gamblers in other states to place bets in New Jersey as long as regulators determine such activity is not prohibited by federal or any state’s law. It even has provisions for allowing people in other countries to play, although federal law would have to be changed before that could happen, Lesniak said.

There have been efforts in Congress in recent years to life the Federal ban on offshore online gambling,  most recently a joint effort by retired Congressmen Ron Paul and Barney Frank. If Congress doesn’t act, then perhaps the states will start taking action themselves.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    A no brainer, really. Easy revenue for the state with no untoward consequences that should concern a government. If Spacey von Brunson-Helmuth wants to gamble away his mortgage money that’s on him. And if Preachy von Sanctimonious wants to thump her good book and get all verklempt about it, well, so be it. These are dire times. Easy revenue streams simply can’t be overlooked.

    Speaking of which, while we’re at it, we also should legalize pot, prostitution, casino gambling nationwide, online gambling nationwide, offshore gambling, riverboat gambling, slots at every horse and dog track, sports betting, jai alai, hell, every victimless vice. Better that than bankruptcy.

  2. Woody says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Um, no, sorry. While it is true that these gambling addicts are indeed ultimately responsible for their actions, the fallout most certainly goes beyond the gambler. The gambler’s immediate family suffers potentially severe consequences directly, and depending on their financial/marital/legal situation, may soon be applying for food stamps, housing assistance and so forth.

    I’m so old I can remember the years prior to casino gambling in my neck of the woods – it was only afterwards that pawnshops began to appear, and now they have become rather ubiquitous (yes I am aware this is correlation, not causation – but it is indeed connected).

    One more item: I’m continually gobsmacked by the fact that the party of social and religious conservatives have championed gambling as a positive development in the last thirty years – absolutely amazing.

  3. Gustopher says:

    Who is stupid enough to gamble online? I put $100 on red, and the virtual roulette wheel comes up black — is this because they have a well balanced random number generator that happened to choose a black number, or they just want $100?

  4. ratufa says:

    @Gustopher:

    is this because they have a well balanced random number generator that happened to choose a black number, or they just want $100?

    How do you know the answer to that general question (whether or not a game is rigged) in a physical casino? Even if you believe that a physical roulette wheel is difficult to rig, consider that the most popular types of gambling in most casinos involve electronic machines (slots, video poker, etc).

    In general, how much trust one has in an on-line casino will depend on the reputation of the company running the casino, along with one’s faith in state regulation and inspection.