Posted 2/17/11 : The rewards flowing from online gambling regulation are considerable
In a move seen by many as increasing the pressure on New Jersey governor Chris Christie to sign off on a bill legalising intrastate online gambling, the action group iMEGA (Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association) has released a new independent economic development study.
The governor is currently sitting on Sen. Ray Lesniak's bill proposing a regulatory regime for New Jersey intrastate online gambling and has little time left before the 45 day deadline for signature expires on February 24.
If the governor does not exercise his veto or sign the bill into law, it will automatically come into force, having received overwhelming support in both the state Senate and in the Assembly.
The new study, “Potential Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Proposed New Jersey Intra-State iGaming Bill,” was carried out by Econsult Corporation, a public policy and economics consulting firm. The report assesses the considerable economic and fiscal impact of the proposed regulation in New Jersey.
The researcher found that Lesniak's i-gaming bill could offset New Jersey's budget deficit, with up to $7 billion and 57,000 new jobs now hanging in the balance.
The report notes that the long-term financial benefits of New Jersey’s Intra-State Internet Gambling Bill (S490) could act as a major catalyst for the recovery of the state’s ailing economy, as well as a launch pad for its employment sector, making New Jersey the first state in the Union to formally legalise controlled and licensed online gambling.
According to the economic development study the implementation of the bill will see the long-term creation of up to 57,000 new jobs (employees earning up to $2 billion in personal income) contributing to a potential $7 billion in gross i-gaming yield. This will provide an estimated $472 million in total New Jersey tax revenues for a state in dire need of relief from an gaping budget deficit.
The shorter-term impacts would see “increased economic activity, employment, demand for commercial office space and tax revenues” and would account for between $210 million to $250 million in gross gaming yield. This will bring in $55 million in tax revenue while providing around 2,000 new jobs in the sector.
The quoted figures are based on poker and casino games alone, emphasising the considerable potential of a wider project, opines Joe Brennan Jr, iMEGA chairman; “The economic benefit has the potential to extend far beyond the available gaming tax yield,” he claims.
“What has made this compelling for New Jersey is the opportunity for job creation in a high-tech sector, as well as the ability to attract significant investment dollars to the state. New Jersey wants to be the capital of i-gaming, and with all of the infrastructure, workforce, regulatory and location advantages, it very well could be.”
The long-term benefit for New Jersey, is seen in the report as the State’s “first mover” advantage in becoming the business hub for a nation-wide i-gaming industry.
“Successful enactment of the proposed legalization could generate economic and fiscal benefits that far exceed those associated with an intrastate system," the Econsult report predicts.
"In particular, [the] passage of this legalization could allow New Jersey to become the business hub of a burgeoning new industry, exporting services to and generating income from gamers throughout the country.”
New Jersey’s debt has recently been downgraded by Standard & Poor to AA- from AA, making it one of the seven lowest rated states in America. The new negative rating could make government borrowing or refinancing more expensive for taxpayers and adds to a much under-funded pension scheme. The next state budget could see a deficit between $8 billion and $11 billion.