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Anne Lindner

New Jersey Assembly Discusses Online Gambling

21 March 2002

The New Jersey Assembly's Tourism and Gaming Committee got an education on Internet gambling on Monday.

As part of an informational session on I-gaming, the committee heard comments from a group including Assemblyman Tony Impreveduto, who has introduced a bill that would allow online gaming in the state; Frank Catania, CEO and president of Catania Consulting Group; and Thomas Auriemma, acting director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Others who presented included Marc Falcone of Bear Stearns; James R. Hurley, chairman of the Casino Control Commission; Michael Pollock of the Gaming Industry Observer; Nicholas Casiello, a partner in the law firm Sterns & Weinroth; and Lloyd Levenson, a partner at law firm Cooper Perskie April Niedelman Wagenheim & Levenson.

Catania said that while the committee was not marking up any bills, two proposed pro-I gaming measures were discussed. Those bills are Impreveduto's bill, A-568, which would allow New Jersey's land-based casinos to offer games online, and a bill put forth by Assemblymen Nicholas Asselta and Joseph Azzolina. Their bill, A-1532, would allow New Jersey casinos to offer real-time card games via the Internet.

Catania said that from the way the session was presented, he thinks the Committee is getting ready to move on one of the bills. He said the committee was more concerned with Impreveduto's bill.

"I think right now that the bill that they looked at and were concerned with more was Impreveduto's bill, which was the Internet bill, whereas Azzolina and Asselta's bill was more with live interactive gambling," Catania said. "Impreveduto's bill is a virtual gaming bill."

Azzolina did not attend the session, but he said he hopes Internet gambling will be addressed by the legislature some time soon.

"We should either study it or have a long discussion on it," he said. "What's happening is that New Jersey and the United States is losing a lot of revenue to these overseas rogue nations that aren't even controlled properly. A lot of our people are gambling overseas, and it's not regulated as good as Atlantic City regulates the casinos."

Azzolina and Asselta introduced a bill last week that would commission a study on Internet gambling. The bill has not been assigned a number yet.

At the beginning of Monday's hearing, Impreveduto spoke about Internet gambling, explaining his stance and his bill, which would make online virtual table games legal. He, like many of the speakers to follow, reminded the audience that no matter how they try to ignore it, Internet gambling is not going away any time soon.

"We cannot be like the proverbial ostrich and stick our head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist," he said.

Impreveduto went on to explain why he thinks legalized, regulated Internet gambling would be good for New Jersey. Among his reasons are that regulated I-gaming would allow for sites to prevent minors and problem gamblers gaining access to their services, and they would generate tax revenue for the state. Also, he pointed out, making them illegal doesn't necessarily mean people won't use them.

"We had experience once before with prohibition," he said. "Prohibition didn't work with alcohol in the 20s; prohibition is not going to work with the Internet in the 2000s."

Thomas Auriemma, the state's acting director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, told the group that the New Jersey attorney general is open to supporting Internet gambling if no prohibitive federal law is put in place.

"Although, as indicated, the attorney general and the Division of Gaming Enforcement have in the past supported and attempted to enforce a prohibition against Internet gambling, we have always recognized that changing times may dictate fresh approaches," he said.

Some of the speakers' testimonies are available via the following links:

Frank Catania
Thomas Auriemma
Nicholas Casiello
James Hurley
Michael Pollock

New Jersey Assembly Discusses Online Gambling is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner