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New Jersey Lawmakers Agree Five Year iGaming Extension

Penny July 4, 2023

Ever since states in the US were given the power to legalize online gambling in the form of casino games and sports betting, there has been a continuous conversation around it nationwide. Individual state legislatures are constantly being called upon to debate and decide on bills to legalize gaming. But, even in the states that moved fast to push legal iGaming through in the wake of the 2018 Supreme Court decision on sports betting, the cycle continues. Specifically, New Jersey is in the midst of a discussion around the longer-term legal future of the pastime in the state. It appears now that an interim approach has been decided that ensures the continuation of legal iGaming in the state for the foreseeable future.

New Jersey

Longer Extension Than Previously Expected

The Garden State has offered legal online gambling in some form since the early 2010s. As such, it has long been one of the states at the forefront of the iGaming revolution. Because of that, the industry is a big part of the local economy. Losing it after such a long period of established operation would be of great concern to those in charge of finances in New Jersey. According to recent reports, the online sector of casino gaming and sports betting represents the largest portion of revenue for operators in the state. In the beginning of 2023, in-person winnings at casinos were down on the same periods pre-pandemics. However, online casino gaming experienced an 18% increase on the previous year, which underlined the importance of retaining the digital gaming industry. 


That brings us to the concern that legal iGaming could have ended in 2023 after 10 years of operation. The incumbent bill that allowed for the provision of online gambling was set to be up in November of this year. Given that the online arm of casino gaming has been much better performing than the brick-and-mortar sector, the bill’s ending would have been devastating. The looming end was high on the agenda of lawmakers in the state. The initial proposal made was to extend the bill for an extra 10 years, doubling the operational time and locking in a good amount of time so that the industry could continue to grow without the restriction of a looming end. That would have been the favored outcome for operators and iGaming proponents in the state. Lawmakers had different ideas, though.


The Washington Post reported last week that lawmakers had cut the 10-year renewal to a concerningly low two years. Under that extension, that would see the bill end in 2025. This would prove to be restrictive to the industry, causing many in the business to look over their shoulders. Now, though, there has been something of a compromise. Under the new extension agreement, the provisions will be extended for five years, meaning that the bill would now end in 2028. It still provides some concerns for industry heads, as some believe it has damaged the market and caused a dent in confidence and popularity. That won’t benefit any parties if it causes a dip in one of New Jersey’s most prized assets. The bill has helped local casinos function with more ease in the post-Covid landscape. Any hit will be problematic for local businesses and the state’s coffers.


Will New Jersey Remain at the Forefront of iGaming?

Many people will be concerned that the uncertainties around the future of digital gambling will be the beginning of a more restrictive iGaming outlook. Instead of continuing to be the shining light of gaming in the country, it seems like it could have a rockier future. If the lawmakers in the state are showing reticence to commit to long-term solutions regarding the industry, it signals a potential behavior and attitude change within the hierarchy. To those looking to move into the industry or invest in New Jersey, this might halt those plans.


However, it’s clear that the wider online gambling landscape is also one of uncertainty. A number of states remain locked in talks around legalizing the pastime. This is not a straightforward thing, given that each state must battle a number of bureaucratic departments and so many people have stakes in either side of the coin. Due to that, it’s likely that there will be revisions, amendments, and moves to block certain bills. With that in mind, this back-and-forth on the extension of New Jersey’s bill probably isn’t the death knell of the industry. Instead, it is likely the simple growing pains of an industry that continues to go from strength to strength.

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