New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a bill into law that extends the state’s internet gaming law — which includes NJ online casinos and NJ online poker rooms — for an additional five years until 2028.
Lawmakers in the New Jersey Legislature originally planned to enact legislation that would allow igaming in NJ to continue for another decade. They enshrined the verbiage needed for such an extension into A2190, a bill introduced in February 2022.
Backers of A2190 included the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ), the Casino Association of New Jersey, the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and the Southern New Jersey Development Council. BetFanatics, BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel also backed the bill.
The Democratic governor signed A2190 into law on June 30.
But reauthorization was ultimately shortened to five after a pair of bizarre amendments by the Assembly Budget Committee (ABC), which made the changes without accepting any public comments. Trade groups and others, including CCSNJ, have railed against the changes, arguing they hurt NJ’s igaming industry, which has been ascendant in recent months. The market also hit a record $163.2 million in March.
Committee Torpedoed Ten-Year Reauthorization
A2190 managed to clear three committees in the Assembly with the ten-year reauthorization still intact. But it was shortened by the fourth, the ABC.
The Assembly, Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts Committee (ATG) approved the bill in September 2022. Last month, the Assembly Appropriations Committee (AAP) and the Assembly Local and State Government Committee (ASL) voted to advance A2190 to the full Assembly floor for a vote.
During an ABC meeting on June 27, the panel passed an amendment that slashed the reauthorization from ten years down to two. After an uproar by lawmakers from South Jersey, the gaming industry, and groups like CCSNJ, the committee reversed course at a separate meeting the next day to tack three years back onto the reauthorization — meaning online gambling would be allowed to continue until 2028.
“[We are] incredibly pleased that the General Assembly shifted away from a drastic and unexpected two-year internet gaming reauthorization window to a more reasonable five-year authorization through 2028,” CCSNJ President & CEO Christina Renna said in a statement on Twitter.
“Although not the ten-year window the bill’s sponsor initially intended, this adjustment still allows for the sports betting industry to grow and throve in New Jersey with a five-year security in its operating ability. It is the element of certainty through 2028 that will lead to continued industry success by way of strong revenue collections, benefiting both the state of New Jersey, as well as Atlantic City’s casinos.”
Data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) show online casino gaming has grown from $93.8 million in revenue in 2014 to $1.6 billion in 2022. Reauthorization is crucial if the industry is to continue growing.
Online poker and casino gaming were first legalized in the Garden State in 2013. The original authorization was for ten years and is set to expire in November.
ABC members did not explain their rationale for shortening the reauthorization period from ten years down to two and then making it five. Some quarters speculate that ABC members from the Trenton area may have taken the step to express behind-the-scenes displeasure with an ongoing gaming revenue dispute between the state and Atlantic City.