NJ State Senator Introduces Resolution Opposing Federal Online Gambling Ban

Posted By Steve Ruddock on March 2, 2017

[toc]This week, New Jersey State Sen. Jim Whelan became the latest state-level lawmaker trying to stop what little momentum there is for a federal online gambling ban.

In a joint resolution, SJR 102, filed on Feb. 27 and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee, Whelan called on Congress and the Trump Administration “to oppose any actions that would prohibit states to conduct Internet gaming.”

What a resolution does

Resolutions do not carry the weight of law. Rather, if passed, they are seen as the official voice of the legislature.

If Whelan’s resolution were to pass both houses, it would simply signify the New Jersey Legislature being collectively against a federal online gambling ban.

However, resolutions rarely get to that point, as their mere presence is usually enough to get the message across.

The New Jersey resolution

In his resolution Whelan states:

“This resolution urges United States President Donald Trump, members of President Trump’s administration, and Congress to oppose any measures and actions that would prohibit states to conduct Internet gaming.

Recent measures in Congress, if pursued by the new Congress and supported by the President and his administration, would prohibit the transmission by wire communication of any bet or wager or of information assisting in the placement of any bet or wager, including Internet gaming. In his confirmation hearing as nominee for United States Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions indicated his desire to revisit the federal Justice Department ruling that currently allows the states to authorize Internet gaming.

These measures and actions would invalidate New Jersey’s implementation of Internet gaming, which the State authorized in 2013 to be conducted by Atlantic City casinos in partnership with their Internet gaming affiliates and under strict regulation and control by the State’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.

A federal prohibition against Internet gaming would directly and negatively impact New Jersey by dismantling the investments that the State and Atlantic City casinos have already made to implement and regulate Internet gaming, taking away the economic and employment opportunities already realized by the State and its residents, and foreclosing the future potential of Internet gaming to generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, create high-tech software jobs, and foster valuable business ventures for Atlantic City casinos in this State.”

Not the first time lawmakers have sought to protect NJ online gambling

One of Whelan’s colleagues, Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo, introduced a similarly-worded joint resolution, AJR 137, earlier this year.

Mazzeo’s resolution reads:

“The Legislature of the State of New Jersey urges United States President Donald Trump, President Trump’s administration, and Congress to oppose any federal measures and actions to prohibit the transmission by wire communication of any bet or wager or of information assisting in the placement of any bet or wager, including Internet gaming.

A federal prohibition against Internet gaming would directly and negatively impact New Jersey by dismantling the investments that the State and Atlantic City casinos have already made to implement and regulate Internet gaming, taking away the economic and employment opportunities already realized by the State and its residents, and foreclosing the future potential of Internet gaming to generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, create high-tech software jobs, and foster valuable business ventures for Atlantic City casinos in this State.”

Mazzeo’s resolution has already made some progress, as it was favorably reported out of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee on Jan. 30.

A look at previous resolutions opposing a federal ban

Resolutions opposing a federal online gambling ban first surfaced in 2014 as a response to Sheldon Adelson’s pledge to “spend whatever it takes” to stop online gambling in New Jersey and across the United States.

Like-minded politicians introduced legislation that would “restore” the Wire Act, bringing about a federal online gambling prohibition.

In the summer of 2014, Mazzeo and several other New Jersey assemblymembers introduced a resolution “urging Congress to oppose” the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

As was the case with this year’s resolution, the 2014 resolution passed the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Assembly Committee in October just as RAWA was purportedly gaining a little bit of traction in Congress.

Around the same time, Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Sturla  introduced a resolution where he also urged Congress to oppose legislation that would ban online gambling at the federal level.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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