Bill authorizing Internet wagering released from committee

TRENTON – A bill (S1565) sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-20), Union, to allow wagering on casino games via the Internet was released from the State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on Monday afternoon by a 3-0-2 vote, with the two Republican members of the committee abstaining.

S1565 would allow casino games, including poker, to be offered by way of Internet wagering through Atlantic City casinos. Very similar legislation previously passed the Senate and Assembly, but was vetoed by the governor in 2011.

The bill calls for an annual 10 percent tax of gross revenues to be paid into a casino revenue fund.

“Federal law does not prohibit interstate gaming,” Lesniak said at the hearing, responding to the governor’s 2011 veto. “This complies with the constitution of the state of New Jersey as is…(this bill) means hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to our ailing casinos.”

Donald Weinbaum, who said his organization, The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, does not take sides on bills, expressed concerns about the ease of Internet gambling and its effect on addicts.

William Pascrell III, of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, said S1565 is a jobs bill that would help reinvigorate Atlantic City.

Representatives from the horse racing industry opposed the bill at the hearing because the boom for the casinos may come at the expense of horse racing outlets, which are not included in the bill.

Sen. Jim Whelan (D-2), Atlantic City, said New Jersey would reap major benefits from being the first state to enact the legislation.

“Internet gaming is happening now,” Whelan said. “Whoever gets there first, that is where the investments will be.”


Bill authorizing Internet wagering released from committee