Sen. Lesniak Introduces Long-Awaited Bill To Allow International Player Pooling In NJ

New Legislation Allows New Jersey To Enter Into International Online Gambling Agreements

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With SCOTUS listening to oral arguments for Christie vs. NCAA, a case that will likely determine the legality of sports betting in the US, the eyes of the gaming world are hyper-focused on the Supreme Court today.

But Christie vs. NCAA isn’t the only big news coming out of New Jersey.

On Nov. 30, New Jersey state Sen. Raymond Lesniak introduced a long-awaited piece of legislation that would pave the way for New Jersey to pool players with international online gaming providers.

The summary statement of the bill, S3536, reads in part:

“This bill allows the division to permit Internet gaming equipment to be located outside of Atlantic City if the division deems it necessary to facilitate the conduct of international Internet wagering.”

If enacted, the legislation would pave the way for New Jersey to partner with international jurisdictions.

New Jersey regulators have long sought such partnerships. But they have been stymied by the provision in the state’s gaming act that requires servers to be located in Atlantic City. The provision is too costly an expense for operators in other jurisdictions to bear.

“Our law is very restricted in that the gaming servers, the actual gaming servers that allow for the outcome of the game to be determined, have to be in Atlantic City, and that’s just not a business model that they were willing to adopt,” New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck said in an interview this summer.

Legislation has been on Lesniak’s agenda since August

As noted above, the bill has been anticipated for months.

In early August, the AP first reported on Lesniak’s intention to introduce the legislation.

A couple weeks later, Lesniak told Online Poker Report he would be introducing the bill on Aug. 25. The self-applied deadline came and went with no mention of the bill.

One possible reason for the delay was the recent statewide elections in New Jersey. Lesniak made a failed attempt to succeed Chris Christie as governor. The election cycle made it unlikely the bill would have been acted upon. This might explain why Lesniak waited until December to introduce the legislation.

Now that it’s been introduced, Lesniak will have to work fast to get it passed, as he is retiring at the end of this term. That gives New Jersey until Jan. 9, 2018 to pass Lesniak’s bill.

Considering its noncontroversial nature and support from the Division of Gaming Enforcement, the bill has a reasonable chance to pass.

Bill would be a feather in Lesniak’s gaming hat

Lesniak is a champion of gaming in New Jersey. He may be looking at the bill as an exclamation point on his pro-gaming legacy.

The longtime senator lead the legislative charges for online gaming and sports betting in NJ. And he has been a vocal proponent of measures designed to drive economic growth and strengthen New Jersey’s position as a gaming state.

As such, Lesniak has  fought to improve gambling in the state, be it online or land-based.

This latest legislation is designed to do just that: improve New Jersey’s online gaming industry. And by extension, Atlantic City casinos.

“I’ve changed my mission from making New Jersey the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming to the Mecca of Internet gaming,” Lesniak told the AP when he first announced the legislation in August. “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.”

Image c/o Sen. Lesniak

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- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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