NJ Senator Lesniak Expected to Announce International iGaming Bill

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UPDATE 11:30 CST – Lesniak has revealed the basics of his bill. US players would not be able to take part in international player pools under his proposal.

The preparation and anticipation for New Jersey’s soft-launch scheduled for 6PM on Thursday may have somehow been trumped on Wednesday.

State senator and online gambling advocate Raymond Lesniak is expected to introduce yet another online gaming bill in New Jersey.

Lesniak will make his announcement at 10:30 AM on Thursday, some eight hours before New Jersey’s online gambling industry goes live with its soft launch.

RFIW Permits

According EGR North America, Lesniak will seek to create Restricted Foreign Internet Wagering permits (RFIW), which would allow companies that are licensed in New Jersey AND hold an RFIW permit to accept players from licensed locales outside of the US.

Lesniak was quoted by EGR North America as saying:

“Just as egaming operators are applying licenses to offer internet gaming in New Jersey, they could apply for an international license to offer gambling outside the United States,”

Hurdles, roadblocks, and dead ends

As the multi-year path to legalized gambling has shown us, Introducing a bill, getting it through the legislature and signed by Chris Christie is no easy task, but in this scenario that would be the easy part!

It’s far from easy to make this happen at an international level, as New Jersey would not only have to work out an agreement with overseas regulators, but would also need to work out a way to share liquidity with these overseas jurisdictions.

Considering this is something that geographically close, and financially aligned countries like Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal haven’t been able to accomplish yet, it would seem an even tougher row to hoe for a single state in the US to make it happen.

One possibility I’ve seen mentioned today is New Jersey teaming up with the Isle of Man, which licenses PokerStars –which is still seeking approval from the DGE in New Jersey. And let’s not forget that Lesniak is also a proponent of PokerStars in New Jersey, having made several comments regarding his desire to see PokerStars enter the New Jersey market.

However, should this be the case, there would likely a groundswell of opposition from the other online gaming providers in New Jersey as Stars international traffic would virtually wipe out any and all competitors in the fledgling US market almost instantaneously.

The NJ Legislature already passed a bill that allows out of state operators

New Jersey has wasted little time in climbing to the top of the online gaming pack, with a number of measures and bills passed that would seemingly make New Jersey the frontrunner for online gambling supremacy in the US.

One such measure was passed less than a week ago, when New Jersey legislators passed a bill that would allow servers for in-state and out-of-state providers to be housed anywhere in New Jersey. The original iGaming bill required all servers and hardware to be located inside Atlantic City Casinos.

So it would appear that New Jersey is looking to not only control interstate online gambling, but also make a move into international online gambling. Watch this space as this story continues to unfold.

- 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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