New Jersey Gambling Bill First Step in Larger Plan?

“Right now, internet wagering is taking place and the funds are going to offshore operators,” New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak recently stated in a press release. “It’s time that we give casinos the authority and the tools to keep these funds in the Garden State.”

Pay attention to the whole point of legalizing and regulating online casinos and Internet poker rooms: To raise revenue by taxing the activity, estimated to be worth billions each year.

So, although the new legislation regulating online gambling in New Jersey — passed by the Senate and waiting Assembly approval — is for Jersey only, make no mistake: Ambitious state leaders spearheading this effort would love to set up their state as the hub of all taxed online gambling in the United States.

According to, that means that Lesniak and other Jersey leaders envision their new system expanding to allow non-American citizens to gamble within it, provided they register through New Jersey’s own online casino and poker sites. The greater the player pool, after all, the greater the revenue.

New Jersey understands the historic opportunity it faces, particularly now that California’s own drive to regulate online poker in that state seems stalled. If it can position itself as America’s online gambling hub, it’ll be poised to share one of the biggest — and currently largely unregulated — revenue streams in American history.

So for now, the proposed New Jersey law would regulate “intranet” gambling, or in-state gambling, and international gambling, but the market of the other 49 states would remain closed. But once this first step is taken, look for the Garden State to take a larger stake in online gambling nationwide. If it can transport its regulatory system to the federal level, the state will have provided offshore companies with their only real shot at online gambling in the United States. This would require legal changes at the federal level, but modifying laws to conform to an existing structure would be much easier than setting up new regulations entirely, as Barney Frank has attempted to do.

And with many leading Internet gambling companies already setting up American headquarters and infrastructure — PartyGaming has offices in California, and is set to merge with bwin, after all — Jersey’s role as a regulatory power broker would likely soon expand to other markets.

For casino affiliate marketers, that could mean big changes to existing brands; it could mean changes to the affiliate marketing structure itself.