Sen. Lesniak Wants N.J. to Be the Silicon Valley of Internet Gaming


Since the D0J has changed it’s opinion on the Federal Wire Act last month, State Sen. Raymond Lesniak told the Associated Press on Monday he’ll try to get a bill through the Legislature and on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk by next week; Christie who vetoed the bill in March, fearing it would violate federal law and lead to a proliferation of back-room Internet gambling dens across the state.

“We can be the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming,” said Mr. Lesniak, a Democrat from northern New Jersey. “It’s the wave of the future. It’s going to come, and we can be in the lead on it.” The goal is to make New Jersey the national leader in online gambling, now that the federal government says in-state bets do not violate the law.

Lesniak introduced a new bill in August that he said contains safeguards to address Christie’s concerns, including fines of $1,000 per player per day for anyone running an illegal Internet betting parlor, and $10,000 for advertising such illicit operations.

Bettors would have to be New Jersey residents at least 21-years-old, and physically be in the state. Lesniak said existing software could verify those requirements.

A spokesman for Senate leadership said it won’t be clear until Tuesday whether there’s enough support to move forward quickly on the bill, and a spokesman for Assembly leadership said leaders would listen to Mr. Lesniak’s request before deciding on a course of action.

If the Internet bill becomes law, giving the casinos a new revenue stream, Lesniak said that would not necessarily make New Jersey lawmakers more likely to approve slot machines for horse tracks.

“Those are two separate issues,” he said.

Internet gambling revenue would be taxed at 10 percent instead of the current 8 percent on traditional casino revenue.

The bill also would allocate $100,000 a year from online gambling proceeds to fund programs for compulsive gamblers. People with gambling problems would be able to set limits on how much they could bet or lose within a specific time frame.

Reported by Maggie B.


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