In America, the eastern state of New Jersey could soon become the first to legalise online gambling after legislators passed a measure that would permit casinos in the jurisdiction to operate websites offering games including poker and roulette.
Known as S490 and sponsored by State Senator Raymond Lesniak, the proposed legislation made it through the state’s Assembly on Monday by a vote of 29 to five and has now moved on for committee consideration.
In a separate measure, a Senate committee also overwhelmingly approved a resolution earlier this week that would ask voters next year to decide whether sportsbetting should be legalised in the state.
If passed as is, S490 would see residents of New Jersey and other countries permitted to gamble over the Internet via proposed online gaming portals hosted on servers based exclusively in Atlantic City while inhabitants of other states would be banned. These sites would be run by land-based casinos operating in the state, which would be required to apply for one-year renewable licenses initially costing $200,000, and permitted to offer most existing table games.
New Jersey is currently suffering from a budget shortfall and the state would collect a 15 percent tax on all gross revenues from Internet gaming and use these funds to support winners’ purses at horseracing tracks.
“That’s a no-brainer and the whole bill is a no-brainer,” said Lesniak, a Democrat that represents the state’s 20th legislative district.
“We need to be bold and tell the Federal government that it has no Constitutional authority to prevent online gaming here in our state.”
In addition, the proposed legislation would see the state’s Department of Human Services tasked with running compulsive gambling treatment and prevention programmes. Funded by licensees this would cost $100,000 per year.
“Though there is still a little way to go, we’re very happy with the result of today’s vote”, said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association “Senator (Raymond J.) Lesniak (the sponsor of S-490) has been a thoughtful champion of his bill, and it’s nice to see him get the win today.”
“New Jersey has really taken the lead on these issues nationally,” Brennan added. “With Missouri, Rhode Island and California all passing measures in their own legislatures for state-related sports betting, it’s only a matter of when, not if, that this underground economy will be normalized for players in the US.”
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