State revenues in New Jersey could get a much-needed shot in the arm if online poker is approved in neighboring Pennsylvania and then partners with the Garden State, where its underwhelming poker franchise has been overshadowed by the growing online gaming industry.
In 2013, New Jersey became one of three states in the U.S. to legalize online poker and since then the revenue generated from the market has failed to live up to the initial estimates that gaming analysts had predicted. As a result, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) has been searching for ways to boost the sluggish industry and recently also expressed interest in partnering with the United Kingdom (UK) to share online poker player pools in the near future. Last month, NJDGE Director David Rebuck said that the combination of New Jersey’s nine million people and more than 63 million in the UK would amount to a massive increase in liquidity for operators in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, online gambling supporters in Pennsylvania patiently wait for the state legislature to return to the state capitol building in Harrisburg this fall so that it can approve an omnibus gaming reform bill which centers on online gambling legalization. Pennsylvania is relying on revenue generated from the table game tax bill recently approved by the state legislature, along with the anticipated $100 million in revenue from the first year of operation of online gambling on poker and casino-style games, to fund the recently agreed to $31.6 billion budget. If Pennsylvania’s gaming reform bill is successful in the Senate this fall, a leading industry lobbyist and New Jersey regulators say a strong possibility exists that the two neighboring states could quickly form a lucrative partnership, according to the Daily Journal.
Poker Players Alliance executive director, John Pappas, said that following Delaware and New Jersey in the fall of 2013, it appears as though Pennsylvania leads California and Michigan in the race to become the third state to legalize a variety of casino games. Pappas said that while there is still work to be done, a strong case has been made for legalization. Pappas also believes that if Pennsylvania legalizes online poker, it could have a domino effect and result in other states following suit. The news agency also reported, that Rebuck said regulators in Trenton and Pennsylvania have an ongoing dialogue regarding a sharing arrangement for online poker players. He said that officials in Pennsylvania have been told by Division officials that a poker compact would help grow their online poker revenues much faster that a solo effort by the state would produce.
Prior to the Pennsylvania Senate breaking for its summer recess, House Bill 2150 (pdf) was approved in the lower house on June 28 after being rejected by the House earlier. After a controversial component of the proposed legislation was removed, the omnibus gaming reform bill was passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The bill was then sent to the Senate for consideration where it currently remains. In addition to allowing online gambling in the state, the proposed legislation would expand the number of slot machines and regulate daily fantasy sports. One thing the bill has in its favor is the fact that many believe in order for the state’s 2016/2017 budget process to be complete, money from some form of gaming expansion is necessary.