Online Casino Gambling Moves Forward in New Jersey

As I reported last week, though federal attempts to legalize online gambling have seen little progress in the last year, states’ efforts have shown much more promise. In particular, New Jersey State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak’s attempt to legalize online gambling in the state has made significant progress. Yesterday his bill, S490 and its companion S11, were approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and they await a full Senate vote.

S-490 would authorize the state’s Atlantic City casinos to offer online versions of their games to New Jersey and also to international customers. The bill is meant to bridge the state’s budget gap and support the state’s flailing horse racing industry. The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) estimate that New Jersey’s intrastate gambling system could raise up to $250 million in gross revenue and $55 million in taxes per year.

According to the text of the bill, the games that casinos would be allowed to offer online include:

[Roulette] Poker, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, big six wheel, slot machines, minibaccarat, red dog, pai gow, and sic bo; any variations or composites of such games, provided that such variations or composites, and any above listed game or variation or composite of such game to be offered through Internet wagering,

The bill also leaves room for the commission to approve other games in the future so long as the game is found to be “compatible with the public interest and to be suitable for casino use after such appropriate test or experimental period as the commission may deem appropriate.”

While it shouldn’t have taken a budget crisis to move this forward and the state should not be subsidizing the horse racing industry, it is a step toward freedom for individuals who wish to gamble. If other states follow New Jersey’s lead and legalized Internet gambling within their borders, states could enter into agreements that allow residents to gamble online at each other’s online casinos. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than a blanket ban.

Image credit: FamilyofFun’s flickr photostream.