Lawmaker eyes international reach for internet betting

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to let other countries and states get in on his state's growing internet gambling market.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak said Wednesday he'll introduce a bill soon to allow gamblers in foreign countries, as well as Nevada and Delaware, to place internet bets in New Jersey.

State law restricts internet gambling to people physically in New Jersey.

His bill, which has not yet been written, would let people in other jurisdictions where online gambling is already legal make online bets in New Jersey. It also would allow international operators to base their operations in New Jersey, and remove a requirement that computer servers be located within Atlantic City.

That would enable other jurisdictions to pool their players with New Jersey and expand both markets.

"I've changed my mission from making New Jersey the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming to the Mecca of Internet gaming," Lesniak said. "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."

New Jersey began offering internet gambling in November 2013. Since then, online bets have steadily grown and have become a crucial part of Atlantic City casinos' business models, with nearly $600 million won from gamblers playing online.

Last year, the casinos took in $196.7 million from internet gambling, up more than 32 percent from 2015. The money won from online customers often makes the difference between an up month and a down month for Atlantic City's casino revenue.

New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the only states that offer internet gambling, with New Jersey having the largest market among the three. Several other states are considering legalizing it.

David Rebuck, director of New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement, said he has not seen Lesniak's proposal, adding he will study it carefully once it is introduced.


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