Joined: Jun '10
Age: 32 (M)
A bill that would allow New Jersey residents to play online poker and select other table games cleared a significant legislative hurdle this week.
The bill, sponsored by New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak, would create a regulatory body in the State of New Jersey that would oversee the online gambling operations of the state’s current land-based casinos, such as the Taj Mahal and the Borgata.
On Monday, Lesniack’s bill passed through the Senate Budget Committee by a vote of ten for, one against.
What’s in it for the state? A significant amount, especially in an era of fiscal difficulty. Lesniack’s bill would result in 20% of the revenue generated by online gambling in the state traveling directly into the treasury of New Jersey. For residents, they’d be able to enjoy the same comps and free poker money that requires a trip to Atlantic City to collect in the status quo.
Estimates put the potential windfall for the government as high as $50,000,000 annually.
Critics, however, contend that such numbers amount to little more than optimistic speculation. The numbers, for one thing, assume that the state’s population could form a critical mass required for a functioning online poker room, an assertion many experts believe to be quite questionable. There’s also the potential that regulation in New Jersey would simply spark regulation in neighboring states, diminishing the total market New Jersey could eventually capture with an online gambling initiative.
Even with this step forward, Lesniack’s bill still faces an uncertain future should it survive a full Senate vote. The final destination for the bill – Gov Christie’s desk – could also be its resting place, as the governor has been somewhat noncommittal on proposals to regulate online gaming in the state.