Speaking in favor of legalization of online gambling, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University, Brigid Callahan Harrison, stated that such a move would have multiple benefits for Atlantic City whose land casinos would provide it.
As Sen Ray Lesniak and Sen. Jim Whelan's latest legalization bill passed through the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee last week, it has been assessed by the professor that the bill could have an enormous potential impact on the entire state economy if it is adopted.
In an op ed piece, Harrison wrote: "Casinos pay taxes - hefty ones - in return for the privilege of collecting Grandma's nickels and Uncle Paulie's blue chips: among the most substantial of these taxes is the 8 percent tax on their gross proceeds. The revenue collected by the state through this tax is constitutionally dedicated to fund services for New Jersey's senior citizens or disabled residents."
She also enclosed numbers, illustrating the decline in the AC revenues - in fiscal year 2005, Atlantic City casinos contributed more than $500 million to the Casino Revenue Fund, whereas in fiscal year 2011, the number was only $257 million. This year’s contribution will most likely be even lower, estimates have shown.
"This [legalisation] bill could help those numbers recover. The bill is designed to position New Jersey as the premier American venue for legal Internet bets. And if the strategy works, it could prove a game-changer for the casinos and for the state, which could become the flagship virtual home of a burgeoning multi-billion dollar industry," Professor Harrison opined, adding:
"Internet gambling proceeds would be taxed at 10 percent and makes the wagers placed online using Atlantic City's sites legal, unless the state Division of Gaming Enforcement determines a wager violates federal laws."
In addition, she said that if online gaming is held up because of shortsighted parochial concerns, such as efforts of the state's horseracing industry to also offer internet gambling, the state's efforts to take advantage of the opportunity will be significantly undermined.
She concluded: "Quick passage of this legislation would give New Jersey the edge over California and Nevada, which are considering similar legislation. And that edge could mean the difference between all of New Jersey's taxpayers having a growth industry subsidizing state expenditure versus being a Johnny-come-lately to an industry that some other state got a toehold in.”
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