On Monday, the Nevada Senate unanimously passed Assembly Bill 294 to permit gambling anywhere on casino property via mobile devices. Some Nevada casinos already offer this mobile option, but limit the range of such devices to the race/sportsbook area or casino floor. AB294, heavily endorsed by Cantor Gaming president/COO Lee Amaitis, would allow patrons to place bets from the comfort of their hotel room, poolside or (conceivably) while pinching a loaf in a washroom stall. (Seriously, who cleans these devices?) The bill now returns to the Assembly for discussion of who gets issued licenses. If all goes well, the bill would take effect Oct. 1.
The Nevada Senate also approved AB258, the online poker bill originally sponsored by PokerStars, by a vote of 19-2. However, the version passed has since been diluted to the point of meaninglessness, calling only for the enaction of a regulatory/licensing scheme by January 2012, but which will only take effect if/when online poker gets the nod from the federal government. In other words, move along folks; nothing to see here.
Meanwhile, over in New Jersey, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano is proposing legislation to allow state residents to purchase lottery tickets online. Quijano claims her legislation would expand the existing $2.6b annual market by eliminating the need for customers to physically make it to a lottery agent to pick up their tickets. Quijano’s chief of staff explained the motivation behind the bill thusly: “Everybody is looking for ways the state can raise revenue, and the intent is to expand the lottery to a new demographic.”
Naturally, the move has angered small retailers who rely on lottery ticket sales for a substantial volume of their foot traffic, and the additional non-lottery sales these customers make while picking up their state-sanctioned magic beans. New Jersey has 6,100 businesses that act as lottery agents, for which they receive 5% commission on sales. Quijano’s bill, which is still being finalized, has been amended to redistribute up to 5% of online sales among these agents.
New York currently allows state residents to purchase Mega Millions and Lotto subscriptions online (and has some 90k subscribers), but New Jersey’s move to allow individual ticket purchases would be a first for the nation. Quijano’s bill made it past an Assembly panel in December and has since progressed to the Appropriations Committee. Will Gov. Chris Christie eventually get out his veto pen for this bill, too?