[toc]A resolution in the New Jersey legislature seeks to push back against any possible federal effort to ban online gambling in the US.
The resolution from Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo “urges United States President Trump, members of his administration, and Congress to oppose measures and actions to prohibit states from authorizing and conducting Internet gaming.”
Why the NJ resolution on online gambling?
President Donald Trump selected Sen. Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. Sessions was briefly questioned at his confirmation hearing about the topic of online gambling. In particular, he was asked about a Department of Justice opinion that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting and not to things like online gambling.
“I did oppose [the 2011 DOJ opinion] when it happened, and it seemed to me to be unusual,” Sessions said during the hearing. “I would revisit it or make a decision about it based on careful study. I haven’t gone that far to give you an opinion today.”
His comments set off a wave of a concern in the gambling industry, including in the Garden State. NJ online casinos have been legal for years, and the state certainly doesn’t want to see anything happen that could jeopardize the growing industry. Atlantic City casinos saw an overall uptick in gaming revenue for the first time in a decade, and that was almost entirely because of increases in revenue from online gambling.
The resolution seeks to make the state’s voice heard when it comes to anything the federal government might do regarding online gambling.
Inside the NJ resolution
The full text of AJR137 can bee seen here. Here is the main statement from the resolution:
This resolution urges United States President Donald Trump, members of President Trump’s administration, and Congress to oppose any measures and actions that would prohibit states to conduct Internet gaming.
Recent measures in Congress, if pursued by the new Congress and supported by the President and his administration, would prohibit the transmission by wire communication of any bet or wager or of information assisting in the placement of any bet or wager, including Internet gaming. In his confirmation hearing as nominee for United States Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions indicated his desire to revisit the federal Justice Department ruling that currently allows the states to authorize Internet gaming.
These measures and actions would invalidate New Jersey’s implementation of Internet gaming, which the State authorized in 2013 to be conducted by Atlantic City casinos in partnership with their Internet gaming affiliates and under strict regulation and control by the State’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.
A federal prohibition against Internet gaming would directly and negatively impact New Jersey by dismantling the investments that the State and Atlantic City casinos have already made to implement and regulate Internet gaming, taking away the economic and employment opportunities already realized by the State and its residents, and foreclosing the future potential of Internet gaming to generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, create high-tech software jobs, and foster valuable business ventures for Atlantic City casinos in this State.
What will the resolution accomplish, if anything?
Resolutions do not carry the force of law. It is simply what happens when a legislative body, as a whole, wants to makes its opinion on a subject known.
Seeing as the online gambling industry has been a success for New Jersey, one would expect this resolution to gain traction in the Assembly.
There’s also no indication that either Trump’s administration or Congress is poised to act on iGaming. However, it’s still good for New Jersey to make its voice heard on the matter of online gambling, rather than letting any potential action by the federal executive or legislative branches go unnoticed.