New Jersey’s Ralph Caputo Pushes for Tougher Gambling Licensing Laws

New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo poker bill

New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, whose new bill would require online operators to apply for a full casino license. (Image: njtvonline.org)

New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo has drafted an online gambling bill that aims to tighten licensing controls in the Garden State.

If passed, the measure could potentially hamper PokerStars’ ability to engage with the New Jersey market.

Caputo, who is no fan of online gambling or PokerStars for that matter, believes that Internet casino providers should face the same level of scrutiny as their land-based counterparts when applying for a license to operate.

Caputo’s bill proposes that online operators should apply for a full casino license, which would mean that they would face a stricter regulatory process from both the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) and the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, with the latter having the final say.

The process would involve full transparency, with a public hearing and testimony. Currently, Internet companies can get by with casino service industry licenses issued by the NJDGE alone, which allows them to partner with existing land-based casinos as service providers.

Attack on PokerStars

“You’re not selling linens, you’re not selling cups, you’re operating an Internet casino and the integrity of those games has to be on the same level as [land-based] casino gaming,” Caputo said.

Significantly for PokerStars, the bill also includes a measure that would make it impossible for the regulators to waiver any licensing requirements, which would make it difficult to overlook PokerStars’ history as a “bad actor.”

Caputo recently launched a scathing attack on PokerStars in a guest op-ed for NJ.com, and it’s clear he feels that the Amaya buyout does not absolve it of the fact that it continued to accept offer online poker to American players after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (UIGEA) of 2006 made it illegal to do so.

Checkered History

“But new ownership aside, of all the online gambling outfits hoping to get a piece of the New Jersey pie, PokerStars’ hands may be the dirtiest,” Caputo wrote. “PokerStars’ attempt to brand itself with new ownership doesn’t negate the company’s checkered history.

“There is no denying the activities that drew indictments from the Justice Department helped build their brand into the gambling powerhouse it is today. Any new licensing review of PokerStars must take that history into account as the firm’s way of conducting business threatens to undermine the integrity and public confidence that Atlantic City has worked diligently to build,” he continued.

The bill was approved 7-0 by Caputo’s committee last week, but it still has a long way to go before it can become law, with approval required by the full Assembly. Caputo said he is currently looking for a sponsor of a companion bill in the Senate.

“I was never a fan of Internet gaming, to be honest with you,” said Caputo. “Those results have been very disappointing. But if we’re going to do it, we should do it right.”

Philip Conneller
Written by
Philip Conneller
As part of the team that launched Bluff Magazine back in 2004, and then as Editor of Bluff Europe, Philip Conneller has (probably) written thousands of articles about poker and has travelled the globe interviewing the greatest players in the world, not to mention some of the sexiest celebrities known to man in some of the world’s sexiest destinations. The highlight of his career, however, was asking Phil Ivey (as a joke) how to play jacks, and emerging none-the-wiser. Philip once won $20,000 with 7-2 offsuit. He has been told off for unwittingly playing Elton John’s piano on two separate occasions, on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He became a writer because he is a lousy pianist. He lives in London where he spends his time agonizing about Arsenal football club, yet in Wenger he trusts.

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