NJ Lawmaker Warns DOJ to Keep Away from Intrastate Online Gambling

Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, the New Jersey lawmaker who is co-sponsor of proposed internet gambling legislation in the state, has written a letter to the Department of Justice, warning the DOJ to keep its hands off New Jersey’s legislation, saying that the state is within its rights to introduce intrastate gambling if it so chooses to.

“The State of New Jersey should not be impeded in any manner from exercising our rights under our state constitution and under federal law,” wrote Lesniak to the US Attorney-General, Eric Holder.

The letter was in response to a letter sent by Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl to Holder last week, which called for the federal government to crack down on states’ efforts to pass intrastate gambling legislation. In early 2011, New Jersey’s legislature voted to allow Atlantic City casinos to offer intrastate gambling services. The governor vetoed the bill under its present form, but has indicated several times that he wants to see New Jersey become the first state to introduce intrastate online gambling. As such, a new bill is due to be introduced later this year.

“Under existing federal law, there’s simply no basis to deny New Jersey or any other state from establishing and regulating intrastate online gambling, and in fact, such operations are expressly exempted under the 2006 law on unlawful Internet gambling,” wrote Lesniak. “New Jersey should be allowed to pursue online gaming, so long as we conform to the provisions set forth in the 2006 law, because it will be a boon to our economy and will help modernize our gaming product.”

It is expected that legalized online gambling would bring in over $100 million in net revenues for the state’s casinos, and create hundreds of new, high paying jobs.

“This is the sort of jump start that Atlantic City’s ailing gaming economy needs, and would position New Jersey at the forefront of what will be the future of gaming in this country and the world,” he wrote. “New Jersey should decide for itself whether it wants to move its 20th century casinos into the 21st century, and the federal government shouldn’t try to stand in our way.”

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