"Currently Internet gambling, virtual casinos, are completely and totally unregulated," New Jersey State Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto said. "It's in the Wild West stages of the industry...We want to make sure that everyone who plays in a virtual casino plays safely, legitimately and is protected from any unscrupulous acts."
Impreveduto and fellow Assemblyman Neil Cohen introduced the bill Thursday.
Federal lawmakers, however, are seeking to ban Net gambling. To date, those efforts have been sidelined over details such as proposed exemptions for horse and dog racing.
Until a decision is made on Internet gambling, the practice is covered by a 1961 law banning bets placed over phone lines and other wired devices unless a state specifically allows such activity. States are split on the issue, forbidding online betting in New York, but permitting it in Nevada.
Impreveduto said the New Jersey law is necessary to protect consumers. He said people who play in virtual casinos have no concept of whether such gaming operations are legitimate, safe and committed to paying out winnings.
Impreveduto and Cohen said the bill only applies to licensed, land-based hotel casinos.
"The fact that every land-based casino has to go through an extremely rigorous process in which to get licensed--we know that they're legitimate operators," Impreveduto said. "The penalty if a virtual casino is found to be corrupt is not only the loss of a virtual license, but also a land-based license."