U.S.: New Jersey gets closer to i-Gaming

On Thursday, February 7, Governor Chris Christie issued a conditional veto on proposed legislation that would legalize internet gaming in New Jersey. The proposed legislation would allow internet users to play any game authorized under the current statute (with the addition of poker and roulette) online from anywhere in New Jersey; however, the legislation requires that all necessary equipment used to conduct internet gaming must be located within a casino property, or at an off-site location that is “within the territorial limits of Atlantic City, New Jersey.”

Stating “now is the time for our State to move forward, again leading the way for the nation, by becoming one of the first states to permit Internet gaming,” Governor Christie recommended specific amendments to the legislation, including among others:

  • Adding a requirement that state elected officials must promptly disclose any past or present representation of those entities seeking or holding internet gaming licenses;
  • Enhancing the level of funding for compulsive gambling treatment programs and “other beneficial purposes for which casino gaming was originally authorized”;
  • Including a sunset provision of ten years for the legislation that would give “future leaders the perspective and opportunity to revise and renew Internet gaming as appropriate”; and
  • Increasing the tax rate on gross internet gaming revenues from 10% to 15% .

The Governor’s concerns regarding “the risks of addiction, corruption, and improper influence” are tempered by his acknowledgement that internet gaming could not only offset the costs of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, but could “reintroduce New Jersey and Atlantic City at the forefront of innovation and entertainment.” Reports indicate that revised legislation may be passed by the end of March, with internet gaming “live” in New Jersey before the end of 2013.

Industry sources have reported that the New Jersey internet gaming market could be valued at $1 billion in revenue and the total US i-gaming market could be worth $35 billion.