New Responsible Gambling Bills On the Docket in New Jersey

A number of new responsible gambling measures are set to be discussed during the current legislative session as New Jersey politicians seek to stem problem gambling in its roots and help the affected individuals.
New Responsible Gambling Bills On the Docket in New Jersey
February 14, 2024

The new legislative session in New Jersey is now well underway, and it has brought about a handful of new (and old) bills related to responsible gambling.

The growth of the online gambling industry in New Jersey has undoubtedly helped the state over the years, but lawmakers continue to look for ways to protect the most vulnerable parts of the population without hurting the operators.

As you would expect from a state that has been at the forefront of online gambling since its very inception in the US, New Jersey is also one of the states doing the most in terms of battling problem gambling and providing options for at-risk individuals and groups.

Some of the responsible gambling measures that will be discussed during this year’s legislative session include creating a gambling treatment division court, introducing responsible gambling education in high schools and colleges, and more.

New Jersey to Introduce Gambling Addiction Treatment Courts?

One of the most important bills regarding gambling in this legislative session is S2272, which was reintroduced by Senate President Nicholas Scutari.

The bill proposes the institution of gambling treatment diversion courts, similar to the existing drug courts, whose main priority is recovery rather than punishment and incarceration.

The proposed courts would take on cases related to gambling and the judges would have the option to send a person into a recovery program rather than jail, which could lead to more favorable outcomes for everyone involved.

If passed, the bill will make New Jersey the third state with this type of court, as Nevada and Ohio already have similar programs. The courts were introduced in Nevada in 2018 and in Ohio just last year.

According to Scutari’s proposal, the courts are needed as the expansion of online gambling creates new opportunities for gambling addicts to get engulfed in destructive behavior. Logic states that since the state is partially responsible for gambling expansion, it should also take responsibility for such individuals rather than incarcerate them.

Responsible Gambling Education Instead of Fines for Underage Gamblers

Another gambling bill that was reintroduced this legislative session is S1242, a bill dealing with individuals convicted of underage gambling.

Individuals found guilty of such infractions can be fined between $500 and $1,000, but the new proposal aims to offer education instead of punishment.

If the bill is passed, judges could send individuals found guilty of underage gambling into state-mandated responsible gambling programs instead of imposing a fine.

The bill, which has been referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee could potentially go a long way in preventing problem gambling in its roots.

High Schools and Colleges to Offer Gambling Education

Another important bill dealing with responsible gambling comes from Assemblywoman Garnet Hall, who is the main sponsor of A1711. This bill has previously stalled in the committee but has been reintroduced to this year’s legislative session.

The bill seeks to force high schools to introduce a responsible gambling education program as part of their health classes.

Students would be taught about the dangers of problem gambling, money, and risk management, and the concepts of probability and predictability as they pertain to gambling.

This bill has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee. If passed, it may help quite a few high school students learn about problem gambling before stepping into the world of gambling and taking risks they never should have taken.

The final bill related to responsible gambling in this legislative session is A1715 which seeks to force colleges that have an affiliation with a gaming operator to introduce gambling addiction prevention programs.

While such programs could be useful, the bill only mentions public schools with a direct affiliation to a gaming operator, and not a single school in New Jersey falls into that category at this time.

While this bill has been referred to the Assembly Higher Education Committee, it is not likely to be passed, mainly because it seeks to resolve a problem that simply does not exist.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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