Monday, September 26, 2011 : "In less than five years a majority of U.S. states will offer online gaming. You'll see a domino effect once the first state moves forward," online gambling exec predicts.
The subject of legalised online gambling remains one of intense interest in the US state of New Jersey, and was examined by the local publication New Jersey.com over the weekend.
State senator Ray Lesniak, who launched a legalization bill earlier this year that enjoyed wide support in the Legislature but was vetoed by governor Chris Christie said his amended bill should ease Christie's concern, expressed in March, that the bill would lead to the rise of an Internet café gambling industry, undercutting Atlantic City's constitutional monopoly on gaming.
However, Lesniak's new intrastate initiative may run afoul of the governor on other issues – its intent to use a portion of revenues to subsidise horse-racing purses, and the proposal to deem all internet wagers as originating on the servers in Atlantic City.
Lesniak is leveraging his proposal's assistance to the troubled horse racing industry to garner support for the legalization bill, and recently pointed to the financial tribulations of Perretti Farms, the state's largest standardbred breeder. The sector is reeling under the demise of the Atlantic City casino annual purse subsidy, worth $30 million, and a fifty percent reduction in racing dates.
Lesniak also noted the possibility of one or more of the 11 struggling Atlantic City casinos closing before the governor's referendum among state residents on online poker could be held in 2012, an event which the senator said he believes is not legally required anyway.
"I don't want to see casinos close, and I know the governor doesn't want that, either," Lesniak said, adding that he expects to have no trouble passing the amended legalization through the state Senate and Assembly during the lame-duck session after the November 2011 elections.
He said if the governor relents, online poker at sites such as Lock Poker could be a reality in "a matter of months" after his bill became law, and without awaiting federal legalization.
The ubiquitous US Digital Gaming company also surfaced in the article, with co-founder and former executive for Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, Richard "Skip" Bronson, predicting that the individual states will ultimately serve as the governmental regulators of the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry.
"I would be delighted if a federal bill passed, because it would be good for my company," said Bronson. "But I watched the debt ceiling debates. Anything one party suggests, the other party is opposed to. And here you have what, at best, is a controversial issue, so you have to be realistic."
Many states, including New Jersey, have successfully regulated land casinos, Bronson said.
"I'll guarantee…..that in less than five years a majority of U.S. states will offer online gaming," the former casino executive added. "You'll see a domino effect once the first state moves forward."
The rise of lotteries nationwide, Bronson said, is a good blueprint for the pace of online poker legalization. Once one state – California, Iowa, and Florida are among the other leading contenders – breaks the ice, the others are likely to follow, he opined.
New Jersey was in 1970 credited as offering the first "modern lottery," with bigger prizes and more frequent drawings than New Hampshire and New York, its ‘sixties predecessors. Within five years, 10 more states – mostly in the Northeast – had followed suit…. and now 43 states sell lottery tickets.