State Sen. Ray Lesniak told the Associated Press last week he would soon be introducing legislation that would allow people outside of New Jersey to play online poker on state licensed sites and place various wagers on state licensed online casinos. Currently, only players located inside state borders can play on New Jersey’s licensed and regulated online gambling sites.
Making NJ the Mecca of internet gaming
Ultimately, Sen. Lesniak’s plan is to allow players in other places around the world where online gambling is already legal to make online bets on New Jersey sites. This would presumably include Nevada and Delaware. These states remain only other two US states which have legalized online gaming. However, other states are considering it.
“I’ve changed my mission from making New Jersey the Silicon Valley of internet gaming to the Mecca of internet gaming,” Sen. Lesniak told the Associated Press. “Online gaming has helped Atlantic City to revive its casino sector with a success that we can expand in ways that will generate more revenue, create jobs and fuel technological innovation in gaming.”
Online casinos grow, online poker struggles
The growing New Jersey internet gambling industry set records in 2016. It posted more than $196 million in revenue and helped turn around a decade of losses for the Atlantic City casino industry as a whole.
The numbers have continued to impress through the first half of 2017. For the first six months of the year, the industry is averaging revenue of close to $20 million a month.
However, the picture has been less rosy for the online poker segment. June 2017 was officially the worst month for NJ online poker since the market launched in November 2013. Online poker operators reported just $1.74 million in revenue during the month. The previous low of $1.84 million was recorded in June 2015.
Sen. Lesniak’s plan would likely provide the biggest boost to New Jersey’s struggling online poker sites. Opening it up to foreign and domestic players would presumably allow sites to enjoy increased player pools, prize pools, and player liquidity. Nevada and Delaware already share online poker player pools. They have expressed an interest in the much larger New Jersey market coming on board.
An open invite to international operators
Sen. Lesniak would also like to see the New Jersey online gambling market open up to international operators. Current law dictates online gambling operations must be run through an Atlantic City casino holding an internet gaming license, and all computer servers must be located within Atlantic City.
Sen. Lesniak’s legislation would remove the requirement that computer servers be located in New Jersey.
Sen. Lesniak champions gambling in NJ
Sen. Lesniak is a Democrat who has served in the New Jersey State Senate since 1983. The 71-year-old politician was seeking to become New Jersey’s next Governor. However, he finished fourth to former Goldman Sachs banker and ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy in the Democratic primary this past June.
Sen. Lesniak has been the driving force behind a lot of the state’s gambling initiatives. He spearheaded NJ online casino and NJ online poker legalization and was originally behind ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting. Se. Lesniak also pushed hard to allow online poker giant PokerStars to return to the US in New Jersey.