New Jersey lawmakers are weighing the extension of online wagering into the 2030s, with an Assembly committee set to discuss the issue this week. While the Garden State legalized internet wagers in 2013, the bill set the expiration date at late 2023. The new legislation would push that deadline back to 2033.
“I think it’s critical for the properties here, to keep them open and to keep those jobs open,” said Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-Atlantic), a co-sponsor and former Atlantic City mayor, as reported by New Jersey Monitor. According to the Assemblyman, the sunset date could hamstring development by casinos and rob the city of the economic activity it brings.
The operation of online gaming has been described as a wellspring of funds for casinos in the state: New Jersey’s casinos brought in nearly $1.4 billion from internet gaming in 2021, a 41% increase over the $970 million reported in 2020. The vertical was legalized at a point in which Atlantic City land-based casinos were struggling to retain gamblers as New York and Pennsylvania launched new gambling properties.
“The casino industry was subsiding. It was collapsing at the time,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), the bill’s prime sponsor and chair of the Assembly’s gaming committee. “It’s been very helpful in terms of keeping the lights on in Atlantic City. We can’t do without that.” According to him, the growth of the industry has demonstrated “the need to keep it in place.”
An iGaming extension could, for a second time, help New Jersey gaming operations remain competitive at a point in which Pennsylvania also has seen its own online market boom and New York –which this year legalized online sports betting– is weighing broader iGaming. As the state’s neighbors diversify their own gaming markets, New Jersey needs to come up with ways to compete: keeping internet gaming, which has already become a staple, could be one of them.
Caputo’s bill doesn’t make online wagering a permanent fixture, further reports New Jersey Monitor. According to the Assemblyman, lawmakers are leaving an avenue open to making adjustments in case iGaming starts to hurt in-person gambling. The bipartisan bill does not yet have a Senate counterpart, although Caputo said he and the other sponsors plan to find a like-minded lawmaker in the upper chamber after the bill moves out of the Tourism, Gaming, and Arts Assembly committee.
Online wagering has grown into a major gambling market for New Jersey since its launch in 2013, with last year’s nearly $1.4 billion in iGaming notably up from the $123 million delivered in the first full year of operation of 2014. The market shows no sign of slowing down, on pace to yet again break its own record: for the first seven months of the year, online gaming wins were up by about 26% from the comparable period in 2021.
iGaming in the Garden State has grown by at least 20% every year since 2015, having become casinos’ second largest source of funds behind slot machines.