On Monday 11 January, the New Jersey State Assembly approved a bill that would allow its residents to take part in some forms of organized online gambling such as poker, blackjack and craps, among others.
Ignoring, for only a moment, the varied and sizable implications of this regulation,it could mean tha Atlantic City were legal able to to offer online gambling as an international service and to NJ residents. It would appear that New Jersey is attempting to become the first US state to plug the tax revenue leak that the badly-written and troublesome Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 has left in the national legislation.
The framework, pushed through in its totality just before Barack Obama officially took office in November 2008, should be working towards legalizing and regulating online gaming. Online gambling is not illegal. Unfortunately, the UIGEA only managed to install restrictions on transactions from banks to Websites that offer illegal online gambling but did not provide an exact definition of illegal online gambling.
As online gambling is dealt with by only a handful of state laws, the battle between the traditional casino operators and their Internet-based counterparts and players rages on and takes on new guises as and when necessary. The latest proposal to resolve some of the resulting problems was forwarded by Nevada Senator Harry Reid in December 2010. Reid’s proposal distinguishes between games of pure chance such as roulette and games of skill such as poker; the potential ensuing result being the criminalization of online gaming “not-with-skill” and a reversal of fortune for the industry’s traditional stalwarts such as Harrah’s, Caesars Ent. and MGM. That this actually appeals to the large online poker operators is an oxymoronic element of the proposal that was left to be cleared up and may have worked against it.
The New Jersey bill, passed by the New Jersey Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee in early December, was approved by a 63-11-3 margin in the Assembly and a 34-2 vote in the Senate. Governor Chris Christie now has a 45-day window during which to transform the bill into law. If no action is taken within that time the new bill will becomes law.
The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) has calculated that a state-run gambling system in New Jersey could generate as much as $250 million in revenue and bring in $55 million in taxes.