On Nov. 30, New Jersey state Sen. Raymond Lesniak introduced a bill to allow gamblers in foreign countries to place internet bets in New Jersey.
The summary statement of the bill, S3536, reads in part:
“This bill allows the division to permit Internet gaming equipment to be located outside of Atlantic City if the division deems it necessary to facilitate the conduct of international Internet wagering.”
New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the only states that offer internet gambling. And with the introduction of Lesniak’s bill, other countries will get to opt into his state’s now growing internet gambling market. People in Nevada and Delaware will be able to make online bets in New Jersey.
New Jersey regulators have long sought partnerships with international jurisdictions, but were always thwarted by the state’s gaming act, which required servers to be located in Atlantic City and limited internet gambling to people physically in New Jersey. It was not a business model they were willing to adopt.
New Jersey was once a gambler’s haven, but when nearby Pennsylvania legalized gambling, it began to siphon off Atlantic City’s main business driver: Philadelphia. But in November 2013 everything changed when New Jersey began to offer internet gambling. Since then, online bets have steadily grown and have become a crucial part of Atlantic City casinos’ business models, with nearly $600 million won from gamblers playing online.
And Lesniak is no stranger to challenging laws against gaming regulations.
The senator has been a vocal proponent of measures designed to drive economic growth and strengthen New Jersey’s position as a gaming state. He lead the legislative charges for online gaming and sports betting in NJ. Be it online or land-based, Lesniak has always fought to improve gambling in the state.
“Online gaming has helped Atlantic City to revive its casino sector with a success that we can expand in ways that will generate more revenue, create jobs and fuel technological innovation in gaming”, Lesniak said in a statement. His current mission is to take New Jersey from the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming to the Mecca of Internet gaming.
Legislation has been on Lesniak’s agenda since August.
In early August, the AP first reported on Lesniak’s intention to introduce the legislation.
A couple weeks later, Lesniak told Online Poker Report he would introduce the bill on August 25. The self-applied deadline passed with no mention of the bill.
Lesniak’s failed attempt to succeed Chris Christie as governor in the recent statewide elections could be a possible reason for the delay. The election cycle made it unlikely the bill to be acted upon. This may have been why Lesniak waited until December to introduce the legislation.
Lesniak is retiring at the end of this term. This gives New Jersey until Jan. 9, 2018 to pass Lesniak’s bill. Although a tight deadline, the bills noncontroversial nature and support from the Division of Gaming Enforcement, gives it a reasonable chance to pass.