New Jersey took another step towards becoming the first state to regulate online poker. In a vote of 29-5, a bill (S-490) was voted by the State Senate on Monday and includes and an amendment with a 15% tax on gross gaming revenue for the state. This means that New Jersey will become the first state to allow intrastate online gambling and online poker, meaning that only New Jersey residents and not other American citizens would be eligible to play on the websites. An amendment to the bill would also allow players from other countries to create accounts on gambling sites.
Bill S-490 which was introduced by Raymond Lesniak still has some way to go before becoming law, including possible legal challenges that a federal ban on interstate gambling nullifies the bill. Proponents say that by limiting gambling to New Jersey residents, the federal ban does not apply. However, the international component of the bill, that allows overseas patrons to play, could also raise legal concerns.
The bill was introduced in an effort to help stimulate the struggling gaming industry in the state. Revenues of Atlantic City Casinos have been in decline for years and the bill was one of several that passed the Senate to help Atlantic City and also to save the state’s horseracing industry.
The bill was passed easily yet there were groups that stood in opposition to the idea of regulating online poker in the state. Among them was Harrah’s Entertainment despite having supported legalizing online gambling bills at the federal level.
Lesniak commented in a press release distributed on Monday, “This bill would generate a minimum of $35 million in tax revenue to help build a bridge to self-sufficiency for our state’s ailing horse tracks. It would generate millions of dollars in private revenue and would give casinos a new product to capture gaming dollars from tech-savvy gamblers. Right now, internet wagering is taking place and the funds are going to offshore operators. It’s time that we give casinos the authority and the tools to keep these funds in the Garden State.”
It will be interesting to see where this goes and how much longer it will take before we see an actual New Jersey regulated online gambling website live.