New Jersey preps bill to offer international online gambling permits

new-jersey-international-online-gambling-permitsThis Thursday (21) marks the start of New Jersey’s online gambling trial period, but this hallowed day will also see the introduction of legislation that would permit New Jersey-licensed online gambling operators to offer wagers to customers in foreign countries. State Sen. Ray Lesniak, one of the chief proponents of all things gambling in New Jersey, says he’s preparing a bill that would further his aim of establishing the Garden State as “a mecca for egaming.”

On Monday, Lesniak’s office issued a release teasing that he would hold a press conference at 10:30 on Thursday morning. eGamingReview quoted Lesniak stating that his bill would authorize the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to issue Restricted Foreign Internet Wagering (RFIW) permits that would allow licensed operators to offer wagers to gamblers in any foreign country where such activity was legal. Possession of a RFIW would not, however, allow operators to offer wagers to gamblers in New Jersey or any other US state. Lesniak’s intention is to put the DGE on par with regulatory hubs like Gibraltar, the Isle of Man or Alderney.

Lesniak doesn’t anticipate much resistance from state lawmakers, given that his RFIW scheme wouldn’t compete with Atlantic City casino operators for increasingly scarce revenue. RFIW-licensed operators would pay initial fees of $200k, with renewals set at $100k. Operators would be taxed at 10% of gross gaming revenue and would have to contribute to a fund benefiting the New Jersey horseracing industry. Operators would also be required to locate their servers within New Jersey’s borders.

Meanwhile, Lesniak has also struck back at the recent news that Las Vegas Sands’ boss and anti-online gambling curmudgeon Sheldon Adelson is ramping up for a major lobbying effort to put the online genie back in the bottle. Lesniak said if Adelson’s quest for a federal ban on online gambling was successful it would lead to “the loss of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of revenues” for Atlantic City’s struggling casinos. Lesniak insisted that “imposing a federal ban on internet gambling for New Jersey would be an economic catastrophe” and suggested that if Adelson was truly interested in protecting innocents from the alleged perils of gambling, he should target the form that has “the most negative impact – lottery sales.”