New Jersey Lawmaker Ray Lesniak: State Can Be 'Mecca Of Internet Gaming'
Industry Going Well And Has Ray Lesniak Thinking Bigger
New Jersey has only been in the Internet gambling business for a couple of weeks now, but things have been going well enough that one lawmaker is already dreaming bigger.
Garden State Senator Ray Lesniak, who spearheaded the bill that authorized online gambling, once said that he wanted to make New Jersey the “Silicon Valley of Internet gaming", but he has revised those ambitions. He told Card Player Friday that based on the success of the state’s games so far, he wants New Jersey to be the “Mecca of Internet gaming.”
In order to do that, he is working on legislation that might help entice large foreign Internet gambling operators to decide to make New Jersey their home.
Card Player asked Lesniak about a few topics related to Internet gaming in his state.
Brian Pempus: What do you make of this $1 billion revenue prediction for online gaming that the governor keeps citing? He said he expects that figure by July.
Ray Lesniak: I’ve given the opinion from the get-go that the figure is unrealistic, and as you know I am the biggest proponent for Internet gaming in New Jersey, by far. But I am also realistic and understand that we are only talking about six months of real revenues, because of the licensing and start-up times. So, the $1 billion…the only person who believes that’s a real figure is Governor Christie himself.
BP: Why do you think that is?
RL: I think he had to blow up his budget to make it look good for his re-election. So he anticipated revenues that just weren’t going to be there. It’s not the only place he’s done that.
BP: What do you make of Sheldon Adelson’s campaign against Internet gaming?
RL: We haven’t heard anything from Adelson since his proclamation that he’ll spend whatever it takes to close down Internet gaming in the U.S. I don’t expect that we will either, for two reasons. Number one: There is no way Congress is going to shut the doors on New Jersey after we are generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from Internet gaming. There is no way Congress would shut that down and there is no way the New Jersey Congressional Delegation would do that. I don’t believe there is any way Congressional representatives would do that to other states because then it could happen to them as well. Number two: Adelson is fighting a losing battle. You cannot shut down the Internet. He has given himself an impossible task no matter how much money he has to spend.
BP: Now you have been working on increasing liquidity for New Jersey. Talk about the idea of bringing foreign online gaming operators into New Jersey.
RL: That really…we are doing well. We are already over 75,000 accounts and more every day. We are doing a lot better than Obamacare here in the state of New Jersey. So, liquidity is not an issue for New Jersey. Under my proposal the player pools wouldn’t be mixed. It would only be for players located outside of the United States, and it would be to attract companies that would want a safe and secure regulatory environment that New Jersey brings to the table…Right now, federal law would preclude international players playing online against New Jersey players.
BP: Now in some ways you have already surpassed Nevada. Can you talk about this?
RL: Well, it shows the strength of our economy. We have a much wealthier state than Nevada and many more people, which gives us a big advantage. Also, our games aren’t restricted right now to just poker.
BP: As for PokerStars’ New Jersey bid, is the firm still going through the review process?
RL: Yes. It is in the hands of the regulators. I don’t know anything, and I don’t want to know anything (laughing). It’s none of my business…Obviously I have stated that we would love to have PokerStars up and operational in New jersey because they bring a whole lot of expertise and a big brand name to the market.
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