Some NJ Lawmakers Betting on the Internet

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Blackjack, baccarat, craps and other casino games featured in Atlantic City could become available on the Internet.

The state Senate wagering and tourism committee released a bill today that would allow the city's 11 casinos to create websites for New Jerseyans to bet online. The state would regulate the new gambling sites and reap 20 percent of the new revenue in taxes.

Sen. Ray Lesniak, the bill sponsor, said the legislation would allow New Jersey to cash in on the online gambling market. He said an estimated 500,000 New Jersey residents who have accounts with online poker sites collectively wager about $150 million a year.

"This bill will provide an astounding number of revenues and jobs for the state of NJ for our casinos who are struggling and for reinvestment in Atlantic City," said Lesniak, D-Union.

The Senate president is to decide whether to bring the bill up for a floor vote. The bill has not yet been considered in the Assembly.

Federal law prohibits government-regulated online betting across state lines, but industry advocates told New Jersey lawmakers that the day would soon come when online betting sites overseen by government regulators are available worldwide.

"Establishing intrastate Internet gaming for state residents will enable New Jersey to funnel new and existing online players into sites licensed through Atlantic City's casinos, capturing previously lost tax revenue and offering New Jersey casinos a new channel for driving traffic to the resorts," said William Pascrell III, a lobbyist representing the online entertainment industry.

Dan Orla, an economist with the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, said New Jersey could become a leader in the field if it acts quickly. He said lawmakers in Florida and California had introduced online gambling bills; the first state to market has a competitive edge as the industry grows, he said.

IMEGA chief executive Joe Brennan Jr. estimated that online gambling would bring 1,500 high-tech jobs to South Jersey and bring in about $200 million in additional revenue.

The head of the Casino Association of New Jersey did not return a call for comment.

Source:  www.nj.com

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