New Jersey Assembly committee approves online gaming, sportsbetting bills

new-jersey-gaming-bill-assemblyOn Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee approved Sen. Ray Lesniak’s S490 bill, which would allow Atlantic City casinos to offer intrastate online gaming. The bill will now head to the full Assembly for a vote, possibly as early as Monday. Assuming the bill passes muster there, Gov. Christie will still have to add his signature before the new scheme will be official.

Crucially, an amendment that would have permitted international customers access to New Jersey’s online gaming product was stripped away before the vote. As we pointed out when the Senate first passed Lesniak’s bill, allowing international customers would contravene WTO regulations, making the removal of this amendment a prerequisite for the bill moving forward. A good chunk of the tax revenue generated from this scheme ($37m/year for five years) would go directly to the state’s ailing horse industry, so expect stable owners to make horses available to help Paul Revere this bill to the homes of Assembly members.

Also getting the Committee’s nod of approval was Lesniak’s bid to hold a referendum to permit intrastate sportsbetting. The chief obstacle here is the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which holds that New Jersey already had its shot at getting sportsbetting (and blew it). So even if this bill passes and Christie signs it (which is unlikely, given his previous statements on the subject), you could expect the mother of all federal court challenges to ensue.

Still, nothing like living in exciting times. Seems like every day, US politicians at all levels of government are pushing the online gaming envelope just a little bit further. What will tomorrow bring? Watch this space…