A bill has been introduced in the New Jersey Legislature that would allow Atlantic City’s casinos to offer Internet gambling to state residents.
“There are probably 500,000 online poker players in New Jersey alone. And we’re missing out on around $100 million in revenue,” Union County Democratic Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the bill’s sponsor, told The Press of Atlantic City.
Gambling online, with some exceptions in the pari-mutuel sector, is illegal in the United States. In 2006, U.S banks were ordered to block their credit and debit cards from carrying payments to online gambling companies. But Lesniak says a recent federal court ruling would permit intrastate operations. “We would restrict the games to New Jersey residents,” he said. “And I believe that would satisfy that ruling.”
The bill also would allow Web gambling terminals at racetracks in the state, similar to casino slot machines.
In the meantime, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with fellow Democrat Jim McDermott of Washington state, have introduced legislation that would establish a federal-state framework for regulating and taxing the industry, which proponents say would generate tens of billions of dollars in revenues for government.
Lesniak’s proposal would authorize an annual tax of 20 percent on gross revenues from Internet wagering, 12 percent more than the casinos pay on their land-based games. State Sen. Jim Whelan said he suggested the higher tax as a way to counter the possibility of Internet gaming weakening the customer base for the casinos.