Is New Jersey Going for It?

7 November 2000
Although it seems to be a long shot, New Jersey could be the first state to legalize and regulate Internet gambling.

Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto is drafting legislation that would make it legal for citizens to bypass a drive to Atlantic City and enable them to instead enjoy the offerings of a casino from their homes.

Under the bill, companies, which are currently licensed in the state to run land-based casinos, would be allowed to operate e-casinos, but they would have to do so from the floors of their existing facilities.

The state would then get a certain percentage of revenue generated from the e-casino, exactly how much is unclear, and would have easier access to the online ventures for regulation purposes.

The bill admittedly is a long shot to be passed.

Internet gambling is a touchy issue both in the Garden State and nationally right now.

A bill to legalize account wagering passed the Jersey legislature but was vetoed by the Governor. It can be brought up for an override vote in the next session. Nationally, a bill to ban Internet gambling was passed in the Senate, but failed to get the two-thirds majority it needed in the House.

No state law in New Jersey prohibits gamblers from placing wagers over the Web, but operating an Internet casino, according to gaming regulators such as New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director J.P. Suarez, is illegal.

Many in New Jersey aren't ready to accept an Internet gambling bill just yet, fearing there would be a lack of regulation and that children could max out their parents' credit cards and compulsive gamblers would have another avenue to loose it all.

Impreveduto told the News Jersey Star Ledger this that the bill probably is a couple years away from acceptance. "It may be an idea before its time," he said. But that doesn't mean he won't try to make something happen with it. "But quite honestly, there has to be something in place."

"We can't let the Wild Wild West take over," Impreveduto said in the story. "What we need to do is regulate it."

Although the future of Internet gambling and online casinos in New Jersey remains unclear, some of the land-based companies have positioned themselves in preparation for legalization. MGM/Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment are currently in partnerships with sites where customers can play online games for merchandise and discounts. They can't win any money, but the casinos are banking on the players staying with them if the day comes when cash rewards are possible.

And while casinos will steer clear of taking cash payments from players, Impreveduto will keep plugging away on a bill that he terms "a work in progress."