In accord with Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo’s joint resolution in the Assembly that progressed in January, New Jersey state Senator Jim Whelan is making moves in his chamber to ask the current federal government to not interfere with state’s rights in New Jersey in regard to internet gaming.
Reported as AJR 137, the resolution beseeches the current administration in Washington D.C. as well as Congress to “oppose any actions that would prohibit states to conduct Internet gaming.” With resolutions in the assembly as well as the senate, even if never implemented, cement a unified front in the state against any meddling at the federal level in one of New Jersey’s important revenue streams and growing industries.
New Jersey was the second U.S. state to specifically legalize online casino and poker but was edged out for frontrunner status by Nevada after an early veto from Gov. Chris Christie. In a short time, New Jersey opened up gaming to people from anywhere as long as they were inside the state’s borders when they logged on or placed a bet.
Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware‘s actions came after a 2011 opinion from the US Department of Justice that fell in line with most if not all case law leading up to it. The opinion stated that the Wire Act of 1961 applied only, as it was intended, to sports betting using ‘the wires’ – which at that time were telephones and telegraphs, but the term has since come to be understood as also including the internet.
The current fear is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will keep to a statement he made in his recent confirmation hearings, that he has a “desire to revisit the federal Justice Department ruling that currently allows the states to authorize Internet gaming,” according to Whelan.
Whelan also pointed to recent congressional actions, presumably the so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act, that could adversely impact New Jersey’s online gaming industry and harm the state economy as well as cause job losses and dismantle the investments that the State and Atlantic City casinos have already made.