If the New Jersey legislature takes no action, online casinos in New Jersey could become illegal again within the following year. Fortunately for Garden Staters who enjoy playing on those apps, the legislature isn’t idle on the issue.
On Monday, a committee in the New Jersey Senate became the second such body to approve a bill extending the legal permissions around online casino apps. While there are still several steps remaining before players can breathe easy, there are signs the bill should pass.
Second Senate committee advances New Jersey online casino bill
Monday’s meeting of the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee resulted in a 12-0 vote to report S3075 favorably to the entire Senate. S3075 would essentially extend the legal status of online casinos in New Jersey through 2033.
The current statute, which New Jersey enacted in 2013, runs for a decade. At the time, the rationale for putting a sunset date on that gambling expansion was protection of the brick-and-mortar casinos in Atlantic City. If online casinos began to cannibalize those properties, the legislature could simply allow the online casino permissions to expire this year.
While S3075 is headed to the Senate floor, its companion in the New Jersey Assembly is at least a step behind. On Thursday, A2190 proceeded from the Assembly State and Local Government Committee to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
At this time, there is no scheduled meeting for that committee. None of the three sponsors or two co-sponsors of A2190 are on that committee. While there are no concrete indicators of the success of these bills in their next votes, there are some positive inferences.
A2190, S3075 seem to have bipartisan support
Among A2190’s five co-sponsors or sponsors, there are three Democrats and two Republicans. Likewise, S3075 has both a Democrat and Republican sponsor. Furthermore, those specific lawmakers have some of the strongest track records for working across the aisle when it comes to gambling matters.
For example, S3075 sponsor Sen. Vince Polistina has joined Democrats in supporting an end to the indoor smoking ban exemption for Atlantic City casinos. Another factor working in the favor of this bill is the growing contribution to the state treasury that online casino play represents in New Jersey.
In April, New Jersey’s eight online casino licensees won almost $159 million from players. It was the fourth time in the last five months that online casino revenue surpassed $150 million. Through April this year, online casino apps contributed almost $93 million to the state.
While $93 million represents less than a fifth of a percent of New Jersey’s $48.9 billion budget for 2023, state services that depend on that portion of the budget would miss it nonetheless. Passing these bills into law might take longer than some players in New Jersey are comfortable with. However, that seems the end they are moving toward and just in time.