New Jersey Seeks International Online Gambling Liquidity
New Jersey lawmakers have considered the possibilities of sharing online poker and gaming liquidity with international companies from time to time, but there rarely seemed enough interest. But New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak has never let the topic lay dormant for long, as he believes international partners are the key to growing the online gambling industry from his state.
Lesniak introduced a bill on November 30 to make that liquidity a reality. And with his retirement pending, he is more motivated than ever to walk it across the finish line before he goes.
A Bill Four Months in the Making
The news of Lesniak’s legislation appeared in early August, when he made it known that he was consulting with online gambling operators in New Jersey and beyond, as well as with the Division of Gaming Enforcement, to ease restrictions on international operators that want to partner with their counterparts in New Jersey.
The way the current regulatory framework is worded requires any participating online poker or casino games operator to establish servers and a base within New Jersey’s borders. Previous attempts to partner with the UK Gambling Commission were suppressed by the current restrictions and ultimately stood in the way of any liquidity sharing with UK operators.
In August, he told the Associated Pres that he expanded his hopes for the New Jersey online gambling market. “I’ve changed my mission from making New Jersey the Silicon Valley of internet gaming to the Mecca of internet gaming. Online gaming has helped Atlantic City revive its casino sector with a success that we can expand in ways that will generate more revenue, create jobs and fuel technological innovation in gaming.”
Lesniak then went silent on the issue until the end of November.
Senate Bill 3536
On November 30, Lesniak introduced the legislation he worked to construct in the form of SB.3536. The bill title is not catchy but informative: “Allows internet gaming equipment to be located outside Atlantic City for certain international gaming purposes, subject to Division of Gaming Enforcement approval.”
He introduced the bill in the Senate, and it was immediately referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.
Essentially, this bill removes the single greatest impediment to international partnerships for the purpose of growing and expanding the state’s online poker and casino game industry.
Optimism of Bill Passage
There are a number of reasons for Lesniak to be confident in the bill’s chances of passing before his retirement. While that doesn’t give the process much time, as a deadline of January 9, 2018, looms, he believes New Jersey is ready to take the next step in online gambling.
Considering Governor Chris Christie just signed the interstate liquidity agreement in mid-October with Nevada and Delaware, the state as a whole is seen as supportive of online gambling. In addition, the most recent revenue numbers show tremendous growth for the industry. Online gaming revenue just crossed the $200 million mark in less than four years of operations, and annual revenue for 2017 is already up nearly 27% over the previous year. Legislators are aware of the growth of the industry and its contributions to the brick-and-mortar casino business. If they are made aware of the expansion potential, the bill has a very high chance of passage.
In addition, Lesniak is retiring as a respected member of the New Jersey political scene, having spent five years in the Assembly before first taking his Senate seat in 1983. As he prepares to leave office, he can use all of the clout he’s built up through the years to ask his fellow lawmakers to pass SB.3536.
The next few weeks will be key, as some forward movement would indicate support for the bill before the legislature officially closes for the holidays. While the first week of January is a distinct possibility for final passage, there may be action sooner than later.
Did you know that in Jan 2011, NJ Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Raymond Lesniak to allow online gambling by NJ residents over 21? pic.twitter.com/WYgkTrjnC5
— SugarHouse Online (@PlaySugarHouse) November 5, 2016
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