A bill looks to enable poker rooms to be opened at the state’s horserace tracks
Now that Atlantic City has been reopening its gambling business after the shutdowns ordered in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a change could be coming to New Jersey’s gambling legislation. Poker rooms would be allowed outside Atlantic City through a new bill proposal filed by Republican Assemblyman Ronald Dancer last week. The major change is that, under current state law, poker rooms are only allowed in the eight casinos located in Atlantic City.
The bill does not suggest that poker rooms can be open everywhere, but it does propose to give New Jersey horseracing tracks the license to also offer the popular games. According to Dancer’s bill, “The legislature finds and declares that the card game ‘poker’ is a game of skill and bluff and, therefore, is not a form of gambling that is restricted by the provisions of the New Jersey Constitution.” The fact that poker is considered something more than just a game of luck is what is allowing the progress of this bill without the requirement of running a referendum.
Both Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park – recently opened after being forced to close for almost three months – are the only two horse tracks in the state. Both tracks also have sports wagering operations and, if the bill is approved, they could also have poker.
This might be a good way for the tracks to make a financial recovery after the hard beating they took due to the pandemic, although some people think it is highly unlikely that the bill passes. Another thing to consider is, if the bill is approved, poker will need to wait until social distancing measures in place relax a lot more to restart in the state.