New Jersey legislator proposes bill to enhance protection for dormant online-gambling accounts

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: January 14, 2024 11:00 am EST

New Jersey State Senator Vincent J. Polistina (R) has resubmitted a bill designed to increase protection for funds New Jersey’s online gamblers have left abandoned in their online accounts. The measure, Senate Bill 152 (S152), was introduced on Tuesday and immediately referred to its first committee stop, the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.

Polistina’s S152 would offer added protection for New Jersey’s online gamblers by making two changes to the state’s existing law. It would:

  1. Extend from one (1) to three (3) years the length of time that must elapse after an account’s last activity before an assumed abandoned account can be declared abandoned;
  2. Send the entirety (100 percent) of the dormant account’s funds to New Jersey’s Casino Control Fund, under the unclaimed-property provisions of the state’s Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.

At the present time, only half of the funds left in dormant accounts are sent to the state’s unclaimed-property fund, where they are eligible to be reclaimed in perpetuity; the other 50% is currently retained by the online casino where the abandoned account existed.

Bill had previously been introduced in last three sessions

The concept behind the bill isn’t new. Submission notes for S152 declare it as a carry-over measre that had been introduced in each of the New Jersey legislature’s last two two-year sessions. In the 2022-23 session, the measure was filed as S1707 and A1405 (the parallel Assembly version). In the 2022-23 session, the bill existed as S344 and A567. And in the 2018-19 session, the bill was filed as S3079 and A4442. The current session’s parallel Assembly bill will carry the nonemclature A397 when filed.

All of the previous Senate sessions’ bills on the proposal have died in the Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee, rendering the prospects for this session’s edition as slim despite its pro-consumer nature.

Though Polistina’s S152 may not turn out to be successful, the bill’s supporters can argue that it makes good public policy. Account dormancy can occur for numerous reasons, from an account holder simply forgetting that an online balance exists to more tragic reasons such as death, serious illness or injury. In the latter instances, next of kin or another person with power of attorney may not even realize that any online-gambling accounts may have existed until some time has passed. The proposed extension from one to three years allows a much greater chance for dormant funds to be rescured by the rightful heirs, if need be.