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Brennan Jr on New Jersey, Oklahoma and Internet Gambling

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Jun/29/2009

I had an opportunity recently to sit down with the head of the The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association ( www.imega.org ), Joe Brennan, Jr..  We discussed two states going in entirely different directions when it comes to legalizing online gambling. 

New Jersey, realizing the economic advantages, wants online sports betting for its citizens.  Oklahoma, on the other hand, is looking to follow in the lead of other states like Kentucky and Minnesota, which in recent months have tried to quash Internet gambling.

JENNY:  Should iMEGA win its federal case, does this open the door for New Jersey to take sports bets online from those outside the state?  And would they consider partnering with an already existing offshore sportsbook operator?

JOE:  No.  If we overturn that law, any sports betting that may be done online would have to be "intrastate" betting.  Meaning, only people who are residents of New Jersey can bet.  New Jersey actually already has a system to this for their own horse racing site; it's called 4NJBets.com.  So they have account based wagering for horse racing.  And so it would be something - we'll say - in theory similar to that.  You not only have to be a New Jersey resident but you also have to be physically in New Jersey at the time you want to place the wager.  When you look at it, New Jersey - it's the most population dense state in the country; there are over 8 million residents in New Jersey.  That's not a small audience but any operator who would offer that would have to be located and licensed within New Jersey and offer the services to their state residents only.  And they would have to submit to New Jersey gaming regulations in which are probably the strictest in the country and the most heavily regulated.  They're pretty tough in New Jersey.

JENNY:  There is talk about Oklahoma taking a similar path as Kentucky and Minnesota, whereby they might try and prevent their citizens from accessing online gambling sites.  Is there a point where iMEGA begins spreading its resources too thin?  Will some matters have to take precedence over others?

JOE:  Well right now I'm going to be bringing in somebody who is going to be just solely monitoring state legislatures and the activity in the different states to keep an eye out for these kind of things.  Again, we're going to have to look at it on a case by case basis because we don't have unlimited resources.  But if there's a move in a state along the lines of what was done in - we'll say - Minnesota or Kentucky, it's pretty safe to assume that iMEGA is going to take - we're going to be interested in that and we'll intervene as aggressively as needed.  Everybody was talking in Minnesota and that iMEGA just came in and dropped a lawsuit on them.  Well that's because by acting quickly and having that civil suit filed - it gave iMEGA leverage as to part of negotiations.  And that's kind of iMEGA's style is we go directly at the target.  We look for a soft target - so we look at what's going on on the other side.  We try and find the Achilles' heel - the soft target and what it is they're doing and then we go fast and hard at it.  Some people object to that philosophy.  We think it's pretty effective.

Jenny Woo, Gambling911.com Senior International Correspondent

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