Big Changes Ahead For Gambling In The Garden State

[toc]New Jersey online gambling could be going global. That is, if a piece of legislation from New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak aimed at allowing New Jersey to pool players with international online gaming providers were to pass.

Sen. Lesniak introduced bill S3536 on Nov. 30. The bill would allow the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to permit Internet gaming equipment to be located outside of Atlantic City. The goal of this would be to facilitate international internet wagering.

Should it pass, the new law would pave the way for New Jersey online gambling operators to partner with international jurisdictions and international operators to legally accept players from inside the state.

To date, neither has been able to do so, in part because of laws dictating online gaming servers must be located in Atlantic City. International online gambling operators have claimed the restriction makes it too expensive to do business in New Jersey.

Opening up legal NJ online gambling to the world

Ultimately, the legislation would allow players outside of New Jersey to play on state licensed gambling sites. Currently, only players located inside New Jersey can play on the state’s licensed and regulated online gaming sites. Plus, it would allow players in New Jersey to play on sites with servers located outside Atlantic City.

Lesniak, who made a failed run for New Jersey governor this year, is retiring at the end of this term. That means the state will have until Jan. 9, 2018 to pass the bill.

The 71-year-old Lesniak previously championed the cause of online gambling legislation in the state. He also fought to allow online poker giant PokerStars to return to the US through New Jersey, and backed NJ’s original efforts to legalize sports betting.

Putting NJ online gambling on the map

Lesniak first announced plans to introduce this legislation in August 2017. At the time, he said it was an effort to put New Jersey online gaming on the map.

“I’ve changed my mission from making New Jersey the Silicon Valley of internet gaming to the Mecca of internet gaming,” he said. “Online gaming has helped Atlantic City to revive its casino sector with a success that we can expand in ways that will generate more revenue, create jobs and fuel technological innovation in gaming.”

New Jersey and sports betting

In the meantime, efforts to add sports betting to New Jersey’s gambling offerings, both online and off, continued this week.

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the state’s case to legalize sports betting Monday. Plus, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) announced he was introducing a comprehensive gaming bill called the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or GAME Act.

The legislation would allow states to legalize sports betting within their borders, with or without Supreme Court support.

“Today’s argument before the Supreme Court showed there is a serious question as to whether PASPA (The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) violates the Constitution and whether New Jersey even violated PASPA in the first place,” Pallone said. “It is clear to me that PASPA is unconstitutional. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will decide in New Jersey’s favor, and the GAME Act provides the necessary legal framework for states to move forward.”

The bill would also clarify states’ rights to legalize online gambling.

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Image credit: Heather A Phillips /

About the Author

Martin Derbyshire

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.