One of online poker’s most fervent supporters in the political world, New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak, has one more trick up his sleeve before he retires. Late last week, Lesniak introduced a bill that would effectively allow New Jersey to enter into agreements with other countries in order to share player liquidity.
The bill, S3536, amends the portion of New Jersey law that legalizes online gambling. Most of the bill is what already exists, detailing the history of gambling in the state, the benefits of gambling (as well as regulation) for the state, and the legalization of internet gaming.
One of the key points of New Jersey’s online gambling law is that the gaming servers must be located in Atlantic City:
….all hardware, software, and other equipment that is involved with Internet gaming will be located in casino facilities in Atlantic City or in other facilities in Atlantic City owned or leased by a casino licensee and thereby considered to be part of a casino hotel facility that are secure, inaccessible to the public, and specifically designed to house that equipment, and where the equipment will be under the complete control of a casino licensee or its Internet gaming affiliate.
But then comes Senator Lesniak’s amendment. He starts by explaining that online gambling has been of great financial benefit to the state and that the market for internet gaming internationally is growing quickly:
In the coming years, the global online gambling market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate, and the largest share of online gambling revenue comes from Europe totaling nearly $15 billion a year and growing at a faster rate than the rest of the world; and
Since its inception under P.L.2013, c.27 (C.5:12-95.17 et al.), Internet gaming has resulted in economic benefits to Atlantic City and to this State, and is estimated to have produced, within the first three years of implementation, approximately $998 million in economic output, over 3,000 jobs, $219 million in employee wages, and $124 million in tax revenues, of which $84 million derive from Internet gaming revenue alone. The provisions in this act, P.L. c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), permitting Internet gaming equipment to be located outside of the territorial boundaries of Atlantic City if necessary to facilitate the conduct of international wagering, would increase the economic benefit of Internet gaming to Atlantic City and to this State.
And then, right near the end of the bill, comes the kicker, “The division may permit Internet gaming equipment to be located outside of the territorial boundaries of Atlantic City if the division deems it necessary to facilitate the conduct of international wagering permitted under this section.”
Thus, if this bill passed, poker players located in New Jersey would presumably eventually have the ability to play on sites not based in New Jersey. One would assume the New Jersey regulators would have to approve of individual operators and come to agreements with regulators in other countries. When this happens and the player pools of international sites merge with those of New Jersey, player traffic would jump, hopefully attracting more and more players and, in turn, generate more tax dollars for the state.
The current New Jersey legislative session ends January 9, 2018, so Lesniak has a month if he wants to see the bill passed while he is still a Senator.