Thursday produced a mix of good and bad news in the state of New Jersey as politicians again tackled mobile and online gambling issues.
The good news first: the Senate approved a measure introduced by Sen. Jim Whelan that will allow ‘on premises’ mobile gambling from hand held devices in Atlantic City land casino resorts (see previous InfoPowa reports).
“We have to be willing to change with the times in order to remain competitive against an ever-growing field of competitors,” the Senator told colleagues. “Not only do (the devices) provide an enjoyable experience for casino patrons, but they expand casino revenues and offer a new gaming attraction for visitors more interested in the resort side of the casino experience.
“Authorizing casinos in New Jersey to adopt this new technology puts the casino industry in Atlantic City on an even competitive field as casinos in Las Vegas when it comes to mobile gaming within the casino premises.”
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement will have to verify that the devices wouldn’t work beyond the physical boundaries of the casino property, the measure requires. Gamblers would have to establish a mobile betting account with the casino and all bets would have to be paid on casino grounds.
The bill now passes to the House, where a date for debate has yet to be decided.
David Rebuck, director of the gaming enforcement division, says he’s confident New Jersey could come up with regulations to ensure the integrity of the devices, as well as the ability to keep them out of the hands of the underaged.
The Casino Association of New Jersey backs the bill, saying it “would authorize the use of the evolving technology of secure mobile gaming devices to permit casino patrons to participate in gaming activities from additional locations within each casino hotel facility.”
State Senator Ray Lesniak had less pleasing news Thursday, saying that the Internet gambling bill he had hoped to pass through the Senate this (May) month will now probably not be voted on until the autumn due to a possible weakening of political support at this point.
Lesniak blamed the lack of political will on the perceived ambivalence of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with whom he appears to be experiencing an up-and-down relationship (see previous InfoPowa reports).
“Because of Gov. Christie’s ambivalence on it and him sending messages that he doesn’t want it to go through until the fall, we’re having trouble getting enough Democratic votes to pass it because of opposition from the racing industry,” Lesniak told reporters.
“We’re going to work on it until the end of June and see if we can get it done by getting the governor’s support or getting the Democratic votes.”
In July and August the legislature takes a break, which means autumn is the best prospect for renewed activity on the proposal.
Although Gov. Christie has been strong in supporting the idea of legalised sports betting in the Garden State, he has been more cautious on the question of online gambling legalisation, last year using his veto to kill a previous Lesniak bill.
This year he appeared more amenable to the prospect after Lesniak tweaked his latest bill to meet the governor’s objections, but party political considerations and the interests of Republican Party donors could be in play in a presidential election year.