TRENTON – An Assembly panel approved a bill on Thursday that would allow licensed casinos in Atlantic City and racetracks to conduct wagering on professional and collegiate sport or athletic events, if a federal law is overturned.
The bill (A-4385) comes after voters in the November election approved amending the New Jersey Constitution to allow sports gaming in the state, if a federal law banning it is overturned.
“We want our casinos and racetracks to hit the ground running should New Jersey prove successful in overturning this unfair federal law,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “We want New Jersey to be on the forefront of this gaming option should the opportunity arise, and this bill will accomplish that goal. We’ll be ready to go.”
Under the bill, the Casino Control Commission is authorized to grant licenses to operate a sports pool, and the Division of Gaming Enforcement would regulate those operations, generally in line with the current duties of the commission and division with regard to casinos and their operations.
Wagering on sports events, as defined by this bill, would not include wagering on any collegiate sport or athletic event that takes place in New Jersey or on a sport or athletic event in which any New Jersey college team participates regardless of where the event takes place.
Wagers on a sports event could be placed in-person in a sports wagering lounge located at a casino or racetrack, or by means of electronic devices, or by means of the Internet by residents of this sate who are physically present in the state.
Persons placing wagers must be at least 21 years of age.
The bill also provides that any person with a compulsive gambling problem whose name appears on any self-exclusion list in this state would be excluded from entering the sports wagering lounge and from placing a wager, subject to all of the limitations and penalties imposed under current law.
“This is a well-thought out plan that allows New Jersey to take advantage of this revenue opportunity,” Burzichelli said. “Let’s face it – sports gaming is already taking place, but the only people taking advantage of it are the bookies and criminal enterprises. This bill opens the door for New Jersey to implement well-regulated sports gaming.”
Under the bill, a casino or racetrack, including an operator at a former racetrack site, may establish a sports wagering lounge independently at the casino or racetrack, or in partnership between a casino and a racetrack at a racetrack location.
A casino or racetrack will be required to demonstrate that it has the necessary financial resources to operate a sports pool.
The division would promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the conduct and operation of the sports wagering activities, while the New Jersey Racing Commission would also be involved in approving any partnership agreements with a racetrack operator.
The bill provides that, in promulgating rules and regulations, the division would examine the rules and regulations currently in place in states conducting sports wagering, and would model such regulatory frameworks as far as practicable.
Under the bill, sports wagering gross revenue realized by a casino would be subject to the existing 8 percent casino gross revenue tax, the proceeds of which are dedicated to programs for senior citizens and disabled residents, and the investment alternative tax, which results in the investment of 1.25 percent of gaming revenue in community and economic development projects across the state.
Sports wagering gross revenue realized by a racetrack would be subject to an 8 percent tax, to be collected by the division and paid to the Casino Revenue Fund to be used for the funding of programs for senior citizens and disabled residents, and also to an investment alternative tax identical to the one imposed on casinos.
Also, a percentage of the fee paid for a license to operate a sports pool will be appropriated by the Legislature to the Department of Health and Senior Services to provide funds for compulsive gambling treatment and prevention programs, with the percentage determined by the Casino Control Commission.
The bill was released 5-0 by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee chaired by Burzichelli.
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