Just before Christmas, New Jersey legislators sent their intrastate online gambling legislation to Gov. Chris Christie’s office, and state Senators are now applying public pressure intended to boost the likelihood of Christie affixing his John Hancock to that magical piece of paper. On Thursday, Senate President Steve Sweeney and three other Democrats – bill co-sponsors Ray Lesniak and James Whelan plus Jeff Van Drew – sent Christie a letter reminding him that making New Jersey “a hub of Internet gaming” would lead to “increased economic activity, increased jobs and increased tax revenues, at very little cost to the state.” NorthJersey.com’s John Brennan reported the letter also stated that given Atlantic City casinos’ financial woes and the cleanup bill from Hurricane Sandy, “we cannot afford to wait any longer for implementation.” Christie has until Feb. 3 to make up his mind whether to sign the bill or repeat his 2011 veto of similar legislation.
Frank Pallone, who represents New Jersey’s 6th District in the federal House of Representatives, has expressed his dismay/disbelief that the sports leagues suing to overturn the Garden State’s sports betting legislation were granted standing by Judge Michael Shipp last week. Pallone, who this year introduced a bill in the House to add New Jersey’s name to the list of states exempted from the federal PASPA sports betting prohibition, issued a statement saying it was “absurd” and “naïve at best” for the leagues to claim they would suffer injuries from legal sports betting in New Jersey. Pallone stated that he would “continue to push” for passage of his bill in Washington.
With Harry Reid having once again come up short in his efforts to pass a federal online poker bill, the legislative momentum shifts to states, including those that have also repeatedly failed to push their cart over the finish line. Iowa has been studying the issue for some time, and its most recent poker bill was passed by the state Senate in March 2012 but died after the Republican-controlled House declined to bring the bill up for a vote. On Wednesday, Radio Iowa quoted Jeff Lamberti, chair of the state Racing and Gaming Commission, saying “if the legislature tells us they’re going to authorize [online poker] … we will regulate it, and hopefully, regulate it well.” Lamberti described online poker as “where the next step in gaming is moving.”
Finally, a testament to the indomitable spirit and ingenuity of man is on full display in North Carolina. On Dec. 14, the state Supreme Court ruled that a ban on internet sweepstakes cafés was indeed legal., therefore all such establishments have to close by Jan. 3 or be shut down by the long arm of the law. However, internet sweepstakes software developer VS2 Worldwide Communications LLC believes it has found a way around the ban’s specific prohibition on conducting sweepstakes via an “entertaining display.”
PilotOnline.com reported that VS2 attorney John Morrow sent a letter to local authorities in whose counties sweepstakes cafés are operating, detailing a new VS2 system that “does not use an entertaining display to either conduct a sweepstakes or to reveal the prize of a sweepstakes.” Under the new system, customers buy phone and internet time, after which they are only required to press a ‘reveal’ button to instantly learn (in a non-entertaining fashion) whether they’ve won or lost. The North Carolina attorney general insists this changes nothing, but Currituck County attorney Ike McRee said the non-entertaining option was likely to send the issue right back to the courts because “apparently technology is able to stay ahead of the legal system.” (Are you not entertained?) The American Gaming Association estimates annual nationwide revenues from internet sweepstakes amount to over $10b.