Senate Wagering Panel Hears Testimony On Internet Gambling

TRENTON – The Senate Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee heard two hours of testimony today from experts on internet gambling and the potential impact it could have on New Jersey.

“The popularity of poker has exploded in the last couple of years, and with it, internet gambling has seen extraordinary growth,” said Committee Chair Barbara Buono, D- Middlesex. “Currently, it is illegal for New Jersey residents to participate in gambling online, but we realize that the nature of the Internet makes it very difficult for us to enforce this ban. What we can do, however, is be diligent in addressing the problems and concerns that internet gambling does raise. Today’s hearing was a first step.”

The experts who testified covered a broad range of issues associated with internet gambling. Linda Kassekert, Chair of the NJ Casino Control Commission, and Thomas N. Auriemma, Director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement discussed legal and regulatory issues that internet gambling raises in New Jersey. Edward Looney, Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling, spoke to the ease that underage individuals can access online gambling sites and how they are getting addicted to gambling at a much earlier age.

“One of the most alarming aspects of internet gambling is how easy it is for children to get onto these sites. If they manage to get their parents credit card, they can accumulate a massive amount of debt in just a few days – and there is no means by which parents can recover that money. With brick and mortar casinos, we can check for identification to prevent underage gambling and curb this type of fraud. The same safeguards are simply not available on the web,” added Senator Buono.

The committee also heard from Gary Selvy, Executive Vice President for State Government Affairs for MBNA, who explained the steps the credit card industry is taking to limit the use of credit cards for internet gambling and minimize the amount of fraud through online gambling sites. Professors Robert Stumberg and Sean Hewens from the Georgetown University Law Center’s Harrison Institute for Public Law also explained to the panel how recent rulings by the World Trade Organization (WTO) may affect New Jersey laws banning internet gambling.