Legalized Internet Gambling in New Jersey?

What does it take to get governments to deregulate? You might think the answer is “a miracle” or maybe “drugs in the water,” both of which might be right. However, it seems that another way to move free-market legislation forward is economic crisis. Perhaps then it’s unsurprising that New Jersey has been really pushing the economic liberty agenda, considering they were ranked as having one of the worst fiscal situations in the nation.

Since the beginning of the Great Recession of 2008, we have seen several surprising moves to deregulate online gambling and some surprising people backing legislation because of their belief in defending individual rights, as well as their belief that legalized online gambling could be a monster revenue-raiser.

Since New Jersey has a major stake in the business of gambling, it makes sense that they have led the charge on several initiatives that would increase the ease with which bettors can lay down their dough. For example:

Former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine supported a lawsuit initiated by New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak declaring unconstitutional the federal ban on sports gambling. Current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was a little more reluctant to throw his support in that direction.

Yesterday the New Jersey Senate’s Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee met and considered a proposal that would legalize Internet gambling for the state. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Lesniak once again.

Under the provisions of the proposed legislation, New Jersey would receive 20% of gross gaming revenues from the online gambling sites.

According to supporters, allowing online gambling would help alleviate several issues facing the state and its struggling gaming industry. Revenue from online gambling could be used to subsidize horse racing, boost the state Treasury, and help support Atlantic City casinos. Supporters have also said that several thousand support jobs could be created through the legalization of online gambling.

As it seems to always be, the rationale behind legalization is deplorable — it will generate tons of tax revenue for the state — but the result would be an incremental step toward liberty in New Jersey.