New Jersey Lawmakers Propose New Internet Gambling Bill
New Jersey state legislators on Monday proposed a new bill that will expand Internet gambling.
The bill is specific to a couple of racetracks within the state. If passed, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment in East Rutherford and Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport would be granted the chance to provide online gambling services within areas of their respective parks.
They would work in conjunction with existing online casino operators in an attempt to provide a financial boost to New Jersey’s horse racing industry. The centers will be referred to as “internet cafes.”
There was a bill on the ballot back in November that would have allowed the state of New Jersey to build casinos outside of Atlantic City. It was voted down in a landslide, however, which has forced legislators to seek new ways to try and revitalize the state’s gambling industry.
New Jersey’s gambling struggles
New Jersey’s gambling industry has taken a massive hit in recent years thanks in large part to serious competition from neighboring states. MGM National Harbor resort, which opened in Maryland just last week, is expected to harm New Jersey further.
Atlantic City has struggled to attract visitors over the last several years. Per the Atlantic City Pleasantville Toll Plaza, just under 24 million cars used the plaza to get in or out of the city. By 2015 that number had dipped substantially to just over 18 million.
Not everyone is in favor of the new plan
Anthony Marino, a retired South Jersey Transportation Authority executive, released a statement in which he voiced his displeasure with the proposed Internet measure (via WorldCasinoDirectory.com):
“Allowing any form of casino-like gaming at the Meadowlands, Freehold or Monmouth Park racetracks would most likely have a negative impact on visitation numbers in Atlantic City, although probably not as much as allowing actual full-service casinos as proposed in the recently defeated North Jersey casino referendum. The rapid rise of internet gaming in New Jersey has already cut into visitor numbers traveling to Atlantic City; expanding that experience to racetracks close to the dense central and North Jersey population would give additional convenience gamblers reason to avoid the journey south to Atlantic City.”
The new referendum is an attempt by the state to provide a fresh revenue stream to the struggling industry. Marino argues that if more people are going to a racetrack in order to gamble online, that will only further prevent people from actually traveling to and gambling in Atlantic City.
Some casinos are already interested
However, the measure is also geared toward the idea of raising awareness of existing casinos in Atlantic City. If someone were to visit one of these Internet cafes and come away impressed with the casino’s online gambling offerings, perhaps that person is more likely to visit the actual casino in Atlantic City at some point.
Monmouth Park adviser Dennis Drazin shares that sentiment (via PressofAtlanticCity.com):
“This is a win-win for both the racetracks and the casino industry. This would be purely at the will of the casinos. I believe this would give casinos a chance to grow their business. It would give them a chance to grow their online business. They don’t have to do it if they don’t want to.”
Drazin claims to have been approached already by several casinos already expressing interest in being a part of Monmouth Park’s potential Internet cafe, though he declined to specify which casinos he’s heard from.
The Casino Association of New Jersey has not yet commented on the proposal.
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