Focus Would Be On Atlantic City
Trenton – Legislation that could put Atlantic City at the center of an international gaming industry was approved by a Senate committee on Monday, the first step of a plan to help attract international gaming companies to Atlantic City, producing jobs, state revenue and economic expansion, the bill’s sponsors said.
“This could help make New Jersey the leader in online gaming, across the country and around the world,” said Senator Raymond Lesniak, the plan’s originator and bill’s sponsor. “We could be the ‘Silicon Valley’ for high-tech gaming. We should take advantage of this dynamic opportunity for a business sector with enormous growth potential.”
The bill, S-980, approved by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, would require the companies to be located in Atlantic City, where they can take advantage of the business and regulatory infrastructure already in place for the casino industry, said Senator Jim Whelan, a co-sponsor of the measure.
“International internet gaming is already taking place,” said Senator Whelan. “This gives Atlantic City the opportunity to build and expand on its casino business. We have the stability and security of a regulated marketplace, we have an educated workforce and a high-tech infrastructure. We can make New Jersey and Atlantic City a digital destination for Internet gaming.”
An economic analysis by Econsult Solutions predicts the plan could generate $5 billion to $8 billion a year in revenue and produce 11,000 to 16,000 jobs.
The legislation would authorize the Division of Gaming Enforcement to provide licenses to companies that offer Internet gaming to other countries where it is legal, allowing overseas customers, including casinos, to place wagers on casino games via the Internet.
The service would include foreign countries with regulatory agreements implemented between New Jersey and the foreign jurisdiction. The Division of Gaming Enforcement would establish regulations to ensure that each person licensed to provide foreign Internet wagering meets standards equivalent to those for Atlantic City casinos regulated by the division. The legislation would also allow for interstate agreements.
“We need to lay the foundation for intrastate and international gaming now,” said Senator Lesniak. “We shouldn’t allow these opportunities to be exclusively overseas in other countries.”
The bill requires that the entire foreign Internet wagering operation, including facilities, equipment and personnel, be located in a secure facility inaccessible to the public and specifically designed for that purpose at an approved location in Atlantic City.
“For Atlantic City, this means jobs and economic growth into the future,” said Senator Whelan. “This is a no-risk investment that could produce real winnings for years to come.”
The bill now goes to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.