Assembly panel approves sports betting bill

New Jersey took a big step toward legalized sports betting, as an Assembly bill authorizing casinos and racetracks in the state to conduct such wagering has cleared committee.

The bill, A-4111, allows adults age 21 or older to place bets in person at a specific location at a casino or racetrack, or via the internet. The bill is sponsored by Assemblymen Eric Houghtaling (D-Ocean Twp.), John Burzichelli (D-West Deptford), Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville) and Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Ocean Twp.).

Bettors can wager on both professional and collegiate events under the legislation, which was approved Monday by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee.

“This is about fairness, freedom, job creation and economic development,” Houghtaling said in a prepared statement. “Places like Monmouth Park and Freehold Racetrack have been left in the dark for far too long. Finally, this will no longer be the case.”

The legislation follows a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing sports betting in states where it had previously been banned under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

“What a marvelous day for New Jersey,” Burzichelli said in a statement. “This will be a big boost for our economy. This will bring more people from in-state, out-of-state and abroad to Atlantic City and to our state’s racetracks. This will bring jobs to our state and help put an end to illegal wagering. I can’t hide my excitement for what’s in store.”

Under the legislation, the Division of Gaming Enforcement will have responsibility for licensing and creating of regulations, while the New Jersey Racing Commission would be involved in racetrack-related approvals.

Sports wagering gross revenue accumulated by a casino or racetrack would be taxed at 8.5 percent, while online gross revenue would be taxed at 13 percent. Funds would be paid to the Casino Revenue Fund and investment alternative tax, for exclusive use by the Meet Atlantic City market program.

The bill was amended slightly later in the day by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, tweaking the tax revenue usage and adjusting computer server rules and timing of online betting.

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