ATLANTIC CITY — (Associated Press) - A New Jersey legislator is asking President Trump and Congress not to ban internet gambling.
Online betting has been one of the few bright spots in New Jersey’s gambling industry, and helped lift Atlantic City’s seven casinos to their first revenue increase in 10 years in 2016.
But Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, said during confirmation hearings he’d like to take a second look at a Justice Department ruling that cleared the way for internet gambling in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo introduced a resolution Monday calling on the president and Congress not to outlaw online betting, citing the good it has done for the state’s struggling gambling industry. The resolution has no legal force on Trump or Congress.
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Responding to a question from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sessions said he wants to take another look at the Justice Department decision in 2011 that internet gambling that did not cross state borders would be permissible.
“I would revisit it and I would make a decision about it based on careful study,” Sessions said.
That immediately set off alarm bells in New Jersey, where internet gambling revenue rose by more than 32 percent last year to nearly $197 million. New Jersey is by far the largest online market among the three states that offer internet gambling.
It began in Nov. 2013 as a way to help Atlantic City’s struggling casinos. Since then, it has grown at a steady pace, and provided extra revenue that last year meant the difference between an up year and a down year in terms of the amount of money won from gamblers.
In an interview last September with The Associated Press, Trump, who was then the GOP presidential nominee, would not take a position on internet gambling, saying he has many friends on both sides of the issue.
But one of the main financial backers of the president, who is a former Atlantic City casino owner, is Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson, who has been pushing a national ban on internet gambling for years. Adelson said in 2013 he is willing to spend “whatever it takes” to enact a ban on internet gambling.
Democratic state Senator Raymond Lesniak predicted New Jersey would sue the Justice Department if it reversed course on internet gambling.