One of New Jersey’s representatives in Congress called attention to the gambling industry with recent comments.

What NJ’s Pallone said on gambling

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. is no stranger to the gambling industry, as it’s a staple of his home state, mostly in Atlantic City.

Pallone was apparently fired up after coming across a report at ESPN talking about the industry of “skin betting” in esports. That’s where gamers wager virtual items in games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive online, generally at unregulated sites. The items have a real-world value, and wagering them appears to often run afoul of gambling laws. Total worldwide handle on skin betting is in the billions of dollars.

Anyway, a release from Pallone’s office say he “voiced concern over the rise of unregulated gambling on online multiplayer video games and the dangers it is posing for minors.”

“Gambling is taking new forms — from daily fantasy sports, to betting on esports, and even online casino games using virtual ‘skins’ instead of cash — that attempt to bypass the law,” Pallone said.

“Current federal gambling laws are hopelessly out of date, leaving the American public vulnerable to unscrupulous behavior.  No matter the form of the games, we must ensure integrity, accountability, and basic consumer protections, including appropriate age limits, are in place.”

Pallone has larger aims on gambling

While Pallone might be worried about what’s going on in esports, cracking down on skin betting is not really his endgame.

He wants his home state to be able to offer sports betting, something it’s been denied the right to do because of federal law. The state has twice tried to legalize sports betting, only to see those efforts shut down in federal court. The latest effort is being appealed to the US Supreme Court.

Last May he spearheaded a Congressional hearing into the topics of sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Pallone introduced federal legislation attempting to allow New Jersey to legalize sports betting. (Another, separate bill would allow other states a window to legalize sports betting.)

Virgin Online Casino In New Jersey

Pallone wants to go ever further on gambling laws

The bills introduced are not the only legislative efforts expected to be backed by Pallone.

The release noted that Pallone “has conducted a comprehensive review of federal gambling laws and is in ongoing discussions with key stakeholders in preparation of introducing comprehensive legislation to update gambling laws to better reflect the current attitudes and circumstances.”

Some of the laws in question include:

  • The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that outlaws single-game wagering outside of Nevada.
  • The UIGEA, which has a carve out for fantasy sports but bans online gambling unless a state specifically legalizes it. (This is why there are NJ online casinos.)
  • The Wire Act, which stops the transmission of sports betting information across state lines.

What changes will he suggest, and how far will he go on this subject? We’ll have to wait to find out.