States seek to expand online gambling for tax revenue

As states across the country are falling short on revenue, the governors of Nevada and New Jersey are looking to boost receipts through expanded online gambling.

In a statement released Friday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval expressed the need to act quickly on the issue.

“I am pleased that the assemblyman has offered to carry legislation allowing for the establishment of online gaming in our state and help Nevada maintain its position as the gold standard in gaming,” Sandoval said.

The announcement followed a similar one made by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last Thursday. Christie vetoed a bill put before him allowing for online bets to be placed for gaming conducted in Atlantic City casinos.

He said, however, that he would be willing to give conditional support, with certain safeguard protections put in place.

Currently, Nevada and Delaware are the only two states that allow online gambling, restricting the practice to within state lines. Had the bill passed, New Jersey would have been the third. Nevada’s bill would allow online gaming companies to expand to outside states.

Though Christie vetoed a bill expanding  gambling in Atlantic City, he said he would willing to sign a bill that included “commonsense safeguards to limit risks of gambling addiction, corruption and improper influence.”

“Our State cannot carelessly create a new generation of addicted gamers, sitting in their homes, using laptops or iPads, gambling their salaries and their futures,” Christie said.

Christie’s plan would require “elected officials to disclose connections to operations seeking licenses, while barring them from working for such companies or affiliates,” Pew Research Center reports.

His proposal also includes raising taxes from 10 percent to 15 percent on casino winnings and sending  more state revenue to programs that combat gambling addiction.

States seeking to expand online gambling are not limited to just New Jersey and Nevada. At least five other states, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois and Mississippi, have brought forth legislation that would legalize online gaming.

This development seems to follow a general trend of states looking for tax revenue through more creative means. A new report by the Mercatus Center found that sin taxes are on the rise.

“We’ve seen states and federal debt growing at almost unprecedented rates, so states are looking for new sources of revenue or just as much money as they can get,” report author Adam J. Hoffer, assistant professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

It is unclear just how much states stand to gain from an online gambling expansion. New Jersey’s bill is said to raise $475 million per year. Delaware estimates it could bring in $3.75 million in the first half year, and a state study from Iowa found that revenue could be anywhere between $3 million and $13 million.

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