Tag Archive: betting

Lesniak bill would legalize internet gambling

While the state continues its push to allow sports betting in NJ and that is tied up in the federal courts, Senator Lesniak is aiming to open up another revenue stream for the state by allowing internet gambling:

A bill ready for consideration when lawmakers convene this week would put New Jersey in the running to approve online wager games, such as poker, ahead of efforts by other states such as California.

“There are probably 500,000 online poker players in New Jersey alone. And we’re missing out on around $100 million in revenue,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, the bill’s sponsor.

The move would empower only licensed New Jersey casinos, all of which are located in Atlantic City, to run Web sites that offer such games.

The move would aim to assist an already struggling gaming industry in the state:

Recent figures released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission show the state’s gaming industry took home just $3.9 billion from gamblers in 2009, a 13.2 percent decline compared with 2008 and its worst showing since 1997.

New revenues could also bolster state coffers at a higher tax rate than traditional casino earnings. Lesniak’s proposal would authorize an annual tax of 20 percent on gross revenue from Internet wagering, 12 percent more than that currently charged to any of Atlantic City’s casino operators. Those revenues are paid to the Casino Revenue Fund.

But not everyone is thrilled by the idea to seek more revenues through gaming, especially those who aim to help fight addiction from compulsive gambling:

But Lesniak’s proposal has already stirred resentment from opponents of gambling who have seen the effects of compulsive gambling firsthand. Arnold Wexler, former executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said legalizing Internet gaming would make it easier for people to “lose their life.”

“It’s about time the legislators took their head out of the sand and start understanding the problems of compulsive gambling,” said Arnie Wexler, former executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. “When is the state going to stop trying to use gambling to fix all of the government’s ills?”

Supporters of the bill would argue that people are gaming online already, so the state legalizing doesn’t change things, but opponents say that the computer only makes it easier for those more likely to get hooked. We’ll also have to see where the new Governor stands on this type of legislation expanding legalized gaming in the state. I’ll put some highlights of Lesniak’s bill below the fold. How do you feel about the idea of legalizing internet gambling?

Corzine joins sports gambling lawsuit, Van Drew calls on Codey to post bill

Governor Corzine said on Friday that he will intervene and join Senator Lesniak’s lawsuit seeking to overturn a federal prohibition on sports betting:

“The federal government’s prohibition on sports betting for some but not all states is fundamentally unfair,” Governor Corzine said. “There should be uniformity in the application of federal law. If one state is allowed to legalize betting on sports events, all states should be allowed the same opportunity.”

[snip]

“Delaware’s entry into sports wagering and table games is a serious threat to the both the casino and horse racing industries in New Jersey,” Governor Corzine said. “We must do everything in our power to stay competitive. We simply cannot afford to sit back and let neighboring states press an unfair advantage against us anytime, and certainly not in the midst of this global economic crisis.”

Senator Van Drew had a good deal to say on Corzine joining the lawsuit including a call to Senator Codey to post the bill for a vote because he thinks pushing legislation will move the lawsuit quicker:

“While I think Senator Lesniak will ultimately be successful in arguing the unconstitutionality of the federal sports betting ban, I think now is the perfect time for New Jersey to make a statement right here within our own borders that we won’t let our casinos become uncompetitive and obsolete when compared to gaming establishments in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York.        

“During the last three legislative sessions, I’ve sponsored bills to legalize sports betting in New Jersey, regardless of the federal ban.  That legislation has passed the Assembly this session, but remains stalled in the Senate.

“Today, I’d like to call on Senate President Codey to post the bill, so we can jump-start the discussion of legalized sports betting within the Garden State.

“Posting the bill is a calculated risk.  If Senator Lesniak is successful in court, we want to have the legislative framework ready, so we can begin legal sports wagering at our State’s casinos as soon as possible.

“However, if the bill moves through the Legislature and becomes law before Senator Lesniak ultimately wins in court, our efforts to implement legal sports betting would most likely garner a court challenge – giving us another opportunity to weigh the constitutionality of the federal ban in court, and hopefully, speeding up the process in terms of deliberation of Senator Lesniak’s suit.

The move by Delaware to legalize has definitely created a greater sense of urgency. Pretty much on cue, we saw stories in the paper this past weekend about how the expanded gambling worries Atlantic City. The Vineland Daily Journal had an editorial saying that on sports betting, NJ dealt it’s own bad hand:

New Jersey lawmakers dropped the ball on this by not taking action against the federal law sooner. We just hope the mistake doesn’t cost too many more jobs in an already battered Atlantic City.

They could have challenged the law sooner, but I don’t know if that would have made a difference necessarily. Maybe the thinking now is that even if they can’t get it legalized or win the lawsuit, they can say they did everything to try and get it done with the decision being out of their hands. And if they do actually win the suit, jackpot.