New Jersey Swerves Government Shutdown that Could Have Closed Casinos, Online Gaming
Posted on: June 28, 2019, 08:55h.
Last updated on: June 28, 2019, 08:55h.
New Jersey’s Democratic governor Phil Murphy said he will not allow the wheels of state government to grind to a halt despite an ongoing budget standoff.
There were fears that a government shutdown could lead not just to the closure of Atlantic City’s land-based casinos but also the state’s increasingly important online gaming and sports betting operations.
Under New Jersey law, casino and racetracks must cease operations if government is suspended for over a week because, in the absence of state officials, there is no one to regulate them. Casinos and racetracks must always have representatives of the Casino Control Commission (CCC) on site, by law.
Currently, gaming regulators are not considered to be essential government workers – like police and firefighters whose departments are among the few state bodies that continue to run during a government shutdown.
Threat to Online
This year, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) made it clear to online operators that the rules would apply to them too and that players would be frozen out of their accounts if the budget impasse was not resolved.
According to Legal Sports Report, the DGE notified New Jersey operators that they should prepare to display the following message to their customers:
Please be advised that beginning 11:59 PM on July 7 your Online Casino and Sports Wagering account could potentially be inaccessible if a State Budget is not passed.”
Fortunately, it appears it won’t come to that.
“Make no mistake: I have very strong feelings about some of the Legislature’s wrong choices in our next budget and I will continue to press our case for smart investments and tax fairness,” said Murphy at a news conference, as reported by NJ.com.
“But I feel just as strongly that going into our July 4 holiday I cannot and I will not subject our residents to the inconveniences they would suffer under a government shutdown,” he added.
Murphy has said he will sign the budget by the deadline, which is midnight on Sunday, but likely not before he has tinkered with it. He’s expected to cut tens of millions of dollars in spending proposed by his fellow Democrats in the legislature.
New Jersey is no stranger to budget standoffs. In fact, this is the third in as many years. In 2017, former governor Chris Christie famously closed state government for only the second time in its history and used the resulting downtime to hit the beach — a beach that had been closed to the public because of the shutdown.
The 2017 dispute was resolved after three days and so no casinos were closed. But in 2006, gaming was halted for three days — including the always-busy July 4 weekend — at a cost to the state of around $1.3 million per day.
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