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Kevin Smith

Was New Jersey Bill DOA?

9 November 2001

A cosponsor of a bill that would bring real-time, real-money card games to the Internet in New Jersey conceded today that the legislation doesn't stand much chance of passing.

On Thursday New Jersey Assemblymen Joseph Azzolina and Nicholas Asselta introduced a bill that would allow for real-time card games at licensed Atlantic City casinos to be played on the Internet.

"I would like to move [the bill] before we adjourn, but I don't know if that will happen or not."
- Assemblyman Nicholas Asselta

Asselta, who admitted that interest among New Jersey legislators to pass the bill probably isn't that high, called the legislation "a middle-of-the-road priority."

The bill has been sent to the Commerce, Tourism, Gaming and Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Azzolina and vice-chaired by Asselta. The sponsors are hoping to get the bill before the full Assembly before the current session ends in mid-January.

"I would like to move it before we adjourn," Asselta said. "But I don't know if that will happen or not. If not we will have to work on it next year and reintroduce it in January. The Democrats will be in control then though, but we will work with them."

Frank Fahrenkopf, the president of the American Gaming Association, said that, although legislative counterparts in Nevada were able to get a Internet gambling bill passed, he doesn't see the same amount of interest in the Garden State.

"Knowing the track record in the legislature in New Jersey of anything having to do with Internet gaming, I wouldn't be making big investments just yet," he said. "A like piece of legislation was introduced in New Jersey and got no where. I would be very surprised if this legislation was to go forward."

Adding to the uphill climb, Fahrenkopf said, is that the national landscape doesn't bode well for a pro-Internet gambling bill.

"I don't know what the future holds," he said. "Anything like this has a tough road ahead being proposed the same time Congress has introduced a federal ban on Internet gambling."

"Knowing the track record in the legislature in New Jersey of anything having to do with Internet gaming, I wouldn't be making big investments just yet."
- Frank Fahrenkopf
American Gaming Association

The introduction of the bill comes more than a year after the committee held exploratory hearings on Internet gambling.

"We tried to come up with the right bill, but I wanted to wait and learn more about Internet gambling before I introduced a bill," Asselta said. "In talking more and more this seems most appropriate at the moment."

A presentation will be made on Nov. 19 at the committee hearing demonstrating current technology that could be used to implement such a law.

Fahrenkopf doesn't see much hope for the bill since New Jersey has missed opportunities to act on similar legislation in the past.

"If New Jersey were to legalize it and follow the mandate of the new Goodlatte bill, they could do it on an intrastate level," he said. "Not interstate, but unless there is some new appetite for this type of legislation in New Jersey, I would be very surprised if this legislation moved very quickly."

The Azzolina/Asselta bill will join A-3150, a similar bill introduced by Assemblyman Tony Impreveduto on Jan. 18, in committee. Impreveduto's bill would make it legal for state-licensed casino operators to open online versions of their games, much like the law that was passed in Nevada in June. Although his bill has found little support in a committee led by members from the opposite party, Impreveduto has vowed to introduce his bill again next session.

Despite being the vice-chair on the committee that heard the Impreveduto bill, Asselta said he has little knowledge of the legislation.

"I don't know what he did and I didn't follow through because we had the hearings on it and this is our bill," he said. "I don't even know what his bill calls for; I didn't even read it."

Asselta nevertheless feels that his legislation presents the best means for regulating online gaming in New Jersey.

"I think this is a more viable option than all the others that have been discussed," he said. "This will be controversial anyway, and we may not be able to get any bill through, so I see this as our best chance at getting a bill through."

Was New Jersey Bill DOA? is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith