There is still a long way to go before anything becomes set in stone, but if some lawmakers in New Jersey have their way, it will become harder for online poker operators to acquire a license to offer internet gambling in the state. According to The Press of Atlantic City, a bill has started to make its way through the state legislature that would put operators under a stronger microscope when seeking out an online gaming license.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D – Essex County), chairman of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee, has put forth a bill which aims to make internet operators earn a regular casino license, just like brick-and-mortar establishments. As it stands now, online gambling companies must have a casino service industry license, the same license that casino vendors have, not the actual casinos themselves. “I was never a fan of Internet gaming, to be honest with you. Those results have been very disappointing. But if we’re going to do it, we should do it right,” Caputo told The Press of Atlantic City.
It certainly appears that this is another effort to prevent PokerStars from entering the New Jersey online gambling market, or at the very least slow it down. Caputo has spoken out against Stars in the past and believes that the company should be subject to more analysis and debate, especially considering its past problems with the U.S. Department of Justice. “I’m not condemning anybody, but anyone with that type of background should have an investigation and appear in public,” he said.
Should online operators be required to apply for a regular casino license just like any of the land-based casinos in Atlantic City such as the Borgata, they would be subject to review by two state agencies, the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) and the Casino Control Commission (CCC). The DGE would conduct the background investigation on the company and its top management, while the CCC would be the one to actually give the final stamp of approval. The process would put everything out in the open with a public hearing which would include the presentation of evidence and testimony.
Internet companies that wish to offer online poker or other online casino games certainly have to be vetted carefully and go through a thorough licensing process, but Caputo is correct in saying that it is not the same process that brick-and-mortar casinos go through. In fact, the online operators must partner with a licensed casino in order to be considered for entry into the New Jersey market.
Caputo told The Press that he feels the online poker rooms should have to go through the same licensing process as any other casino. “You’re not selling linens, you’re not selling cups, you’re operating an Internet casino and the integrity of those games has to be on the same level as casino gaming.”
The Assembly Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee, of which Caputo is chairman, voted unanimously, 7-0, in favor of his legislation. It still must be approved by the full Assembly and Caputo is looking for someone to sponsor a twin bill in the Senate.