New Jersey iGaming Bill Hits Roadblock
June 13, 2010 (CAP News Wire) – Despite all the media attention it received last week, New Jersey’s current bid to pass online gambling legislation may already be dead in the water as some powerful forces mobilize against it.
Harrah’s Entertainment had previously spoken out against the bill, but now, the powerful company has taken action, stalling the “vote to allow legalized sports betting at New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks through a public referendum”, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I am really astonished at Harrah’s that they would continue to fight against New Jersey’s interests in order to protect their monopoly in Nevada on sports betting,” Sen. Raymond Lesniak was quoted. “They have no shame to openly fight against New Jersey and our needs for additional revenues for their own corporate greed.”
But Harrah’s denies responsibility for the stall. “Harrah’s is absolutely not delaying a sports-betting bill in New Jersey,” Marybel Batjer, vice president of public policy and communications for Harrah’s, responded. “The entire New Jersey Casino Association opposes Internet and sports betting. The letter the association sent Tuesday to the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee specifically addressed sports betting.”
Indeed, Harrah’s seems to be just one voice among a much larger group. The most influential casino group in the state — the New Jersey Casino Association — last week officially decided to oppose to the proposal, stating that it “would violate existing federal bans on sports and online betting,” according to New Jersey’s WCBSTV.com. “The group also says the plans would primarily benefit offshore gambling websites, not New Jersey’s casinos.”
The statement is something of a surprise, given the attempt by Lesniak to restrict online gambling licenses only to Atlantic City-based casinos. Apparently, the Casino Association — and, most likely, Harrah’s — doesn’t think that restriction would actually be put into place under the legislation.
Also, they’ve stated that they’re opposed the legislation because it’s backed by iMEGA, which has a history of supporting international online gambling brands — the very brands that the Casino Association fears will horn in on Atlantic City’s New Jersey casino monopoly.
“New Jersey, which has set the gold standard for its gambling laws, should not now have its gambling laws driven by a group like iMEGA that is made up of offshore Internet gambling sites that are not permitted to accept wagers in the United States and are thumbing their nose at the United States Department of Justice,” wrote Association president Joe Corbo last week, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, media reports in New Jersey continue to focus on the enormous downturn Atlantic City casinos face in the state, which would seem to point to a desire to create an economic solution (such as Lesniak’s bill).