For better or for worse, online gambling is coming to New Jersey.
In late February, Chris Christie officially signed into law a bill that legalized internet gambling in Atlantic City.
Initially the bill was vetoed by the Governor because of issues surrounding transparency and taxes. Lawmakers adjusted the text and the amended bill passed by an overwhelming majority in the legislature and earned Christie’s seal of approval.
Here are the basics of the bill:
– Casinos located in Atlantic City will be able to apply for a license to offer online gambling. Only the twelve official Atlantic City casinos will be eligible for the license. No other organizations can offer internet gambling, and face stiff fines if they do. All facilities used for the operation of internet gambling must be located within city limits; only bets that are received by a server in Atlantic City will be legal.
– Players must be “physically present” in New Jersey to place wagers. In the future, New Jersey may develop agreements with other states where internet gambling is legal to permit out-of-state gambling. The casino’s equipment must verify players’ locations before accepting wagers.
– Any games available to play in the casinos can be played online. (For comparison, Nevada only allows poker.) As of now, sports betting will not be protected by this bill, although the state of New Jersey is trying to fight the federal statute barring the legalization of sports betting.
– The bill has all kinds of provisions to keep gambling addiction at bay, such as requiring the prominent display of the 1-800-GAMBLER hotline number, a way to set maximum bets and losses over a certain period of time, and tracking player losses to identify and limit users who may demonstrate addictive gambling behavior.
– Revenue from online gambling will carry a 15% tax. The Christie administration states that about $180 million in revenue for the state will be generated from this tax, but some analysts think this number is seriously overestimated.
The official regulations, which the bill required the Division of Gaming Enforcement to produce, were released on June 3, and are subject to a “public comment period” until August 2 before being finalized. These rules include details such as how a casino acquires the appropriate licenses and procedures for maintaining network security on gambling sites.
So, will online gambling actually benefit the state?