The Garden State could move one step closer to expanding Atlantic City’s casino industry into the virtual realm.The state Senate is slated to vote on a bill this afternoon to legalize Internet gaming, allowing people located in the state to tap into online gaming systems hosted by Atlantic City’s casinos.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-West Deptford) said Internet gambling would capitalize on an existing market.
“We’re hoping it becomes an extension of the brick-and-mortar casinos and provides a vehicle to capture transactions that are presently happening illegally,” said Burzichelli, one of the bill’s sponsors in the Assembly, which passed the measure on Monday.
Burzichelli thinks the legal gaming market would be attractive to current gamblers because it would offer a safe, regulated alternative to illegal gambling, and because Atlantic City’s casinos could offer rewards and benefits the illegal sites cannot, such as hotel stays.
He said that will also benefit state coffers.
“We’ll have the benefit of taxation on these games, which presently we’re not getting, because it’s happening legally,” he said.
The bill’s sponsors are confident they can implement intra-state gaming without running afoul of federal laws. Inter-state online gambling is another matter, but Burzichelli said there may be the potential to enter into compacts with other states that would allow residents in those states to gamble using New Jersey’s system.
Before any of that can happen, though, the bill would need to pass the Senate and win Gov. Chris Christie’s signature. Burzichelli said he’s not sure what the governor will do, but he said the bill was crafted with concerns raised by the governor in mind.
“I think that those issues have been largely addressed,” he said.