Vote on New Jersey Internet Gambling Bill Coming Next Week



The internet gambling industry will start next week off on the right foot if all goes as planned. On Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee sent a bill legalizing internet versions of brick-and-mortar games to the full Assembly. On Monday, the legislative body will likely vote on the measure, which is sponsored by State Senator Raymond Lesniak.

Hard at work in the East Coast state pushing Lesniak’s legislation along is the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), whose Chairman, Joe Brennan, told Poker News Daily just moments after the committee vote that other states could potentially follow New Jersey’s lead. “That’s been our intention from the beginning,” Brennan revealed. “We focused on New Jersey because of the interest of the legislature. We did not cold call New Jersey, either; we were invited to work with them on this.”

As to whether the expansion of internet gambling in New Jersey could violate Federal law in any way, an article that appeared on NorthJersey.com quoted Lesniak as saying that “by allowing online gaming only for New Jersey residents within New Jersey state lines, the state would not run afoul of federal restrictions on such gambling. He also said that an economic analysis showed that internet gambling would produce $210 million to $250 million in annual gross revenues.”

Lesniak’s bill would create the first intrastate internet gambling model in the United States, which could then be mirrored around the North American country. With legislation on a Federal level introduced by Barney Frank (D-MA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) still in limbo and the movement potentially stunted in 2011 with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, state-by-state legalization of internet gambling may be in the cards.

Brennan told PocketFives.com that he expects Lesniak’s internet gambling measure to pass with flying colors next week: “We expect it to pass. We expect it to have pretty strong support, if not overwhelming support.” The NorthJersey.com article added that up to $30 million in annual tax revenue could be generated by legalizing web versions of land-based games. These funds would be used in part to fuel horse racing purses in the northern part of the state.

It was not clear whether debate on Lesniak’s bill would take place on Monday prior to a vote. If approved, according to Brennan, the legislation could also serve as a way to grow the technological sector of New Jersey’s economy: “This is a good way to segue into the investments that South Jersey needs to make to enjoy some of the high-tech industries that the rest of the state is home to.”

New Jersey features horse racing tracks spread across the northern part of the state and Atlantic City casinos entrenched in the south. Expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and other neighboring states has been slowly eating into revenues, leading to Lesniak’s bill.

Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest developments from the Garden State.

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