Bill filed to expand live poker in New Jersey

New Jersey iPoker Down 2.8% to $1.91m in October

Atlantic City Casinos may have just reopened following their lengthy COVID-19 imposed, but a new bill filed in New Jersey last week could see their monopoly on live poker come to an end.

Republican Assemblyman Ronald Dancer filed A4365 last week that, if made law, would allow New Jersey horse racing tracks to open poker rooms. Under current New Jersey state law poker rooms are only allowed in the eight casinos located in Atlantic City.

Dancer’s bill declares that “The legislature finds and declares that the card game ‘poker’ is a game of skill and bluff and, therefore, is not a form of gambling that is restricted by the provisions of the New Jersey Constitution.”

If this is the case, then a referendum would not be required to allow poker rooms to open at New Jersey horse tracks.

The bill also states “The Division of Gaming Enforcement will have jurisdiction over poker at racetracks and will promulgate rules and regulations establishing the rules of the game, providing for the licensing of racetrack permit holders to conduct poker, and establishing standards for the size and arrangement of poker rooms.”

Two horse tracks in the state, Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park recently reopened for the first time since being forced to closed due to the pandemic. Both tracks have legal sportsbooks on site, but not poker.

Allowing the tracks to host poker rooms is seen as a way to increase revenue after the tracks took an economic beating during the pandemic closure. Even if the bill were to pass, which many in the state think is highly unlikely, poker rooms would not be able to open until social distancing measures currently in place are fully relaxed.

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Even if the bill becomes laws the horse racing tracks would not be allowed to enter the online poker industry the same way Atlantic City casinos have. The bill does not include making concessions for the horse racing tracks to offer online poker.

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