New Bill Emerges In Senate Regarding Underage Gambling At AC Casinos

Written By David Danzis on May 26, 2023
judge gavel on casino table slots in background

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a significant change when dealing with people under 21 who illegally gamble inside Atlantic City casinos.

A proposed bill in the state Senate would give courts the option of requiring compulsive gambling treatment and education programs for underage bettors.

Currently, underage gambling in AC casinos is a disorderly persons offense and carries a fine between $500 and $1,000.

Gambling rehab, hefty fines for underage betting in Atlantic City casinos

The new bill, S-1599, allows judges the discretion to issue a fine, require treatment, or both.

Sen. James Beach, D-Burlington, Camden, said the intention is to assist young people by giving the criminal justice system another option to deter illegal gambling behavior.

A Senate committee advanced Beach’s bill by a 5-0 vote earlier this month. Following the vote, Beach issued the following statement:

“Gambling addictions are a serious issue and a growing concern among teens. This legislation will help to connect underage gamblers with treatment, rather than hitting them with fines which can have a disproportionate impact on low-income families. It is our hope that this can help to address unhealthy relationships with gambling and prevent kids from becoming repeat offenders.”

Is NJ trying to solve the ‘wrong’ problem?

The legislature’s proactive efforts may be misguided, however. There is little evidence to suggest underage gambling in Atlantic City casinos is a widespread concern.

According to public data from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, AC casinos are penalized more often for allowing excluded persons to gamble (which can be difficult to prevent or respond to quickly) than for permitting underage persons to bet on their properties.

In the last five years, online gambling operators and sportsbooks have been more likely to be fined by NJ gambling regulators for infractions than AC casinos.

Online gambling probably a bigger threat to the digital generation

Felicia Grondon, executive director for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said that while Beach’s bill is a “good start,” the data tells us that online gambling may pose more of a threat to underage people in the state.

“Online gambling is just as popular, if not more popular, than in-person, brick-and-mortar casino gambling and definitely much more accessible,” Grondon told NJ Spotlight News.

“And there’s more opportunity for kids to gamble online given the fact that one can hide their identity online.”

No shortage of gambling options in the Garden State

Atlantic City is celebrating its 45th anniversary of legalized casino gambling on May 26. In 1978, Resorts International became the first US casino outside of Nevada. Today, there are nine casinos in AC.

New Jersey was the first state in the US to legalize online casino gaming in 2013. Online sports gambling in NJ has been legal since August 2018.

Nearly all of NJ’s mobile sportsbooks require two-factor authentication.

The DGE recently imposed new mandates for online operators. They require operators to monitor user accounts for problematic and suspicious activity. New Jersey is the only state requiring licensed online gambling operators to take that additional step.

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Written by
David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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