New Jersey is generally considered a progressive and adaptive state in terms of its gambling culture, according to the NJ.Bet, an online gambling aggregator. However, despite banning smoking inside bars, restaurants and enclosed public spaces in the Clean Air Act of 2006, a legislative loophole allows smoking in casinos across 25% of their casinos. This has been a pertinent topic of debate between commentators and state officials in recent months, alongside calls for limits on gambling advertizing that potentially increases problematic gambling practices. Moreover, debates have intensified alongside the impending vote to renew New Jersey’s online gambling license.
Online gambling was legalized in New Jersey in 2013, but the ten-year license is due for renewal by November this year. As part of the renewal, this offers an opportunity for other pressing changes to be implemented. Operators in New Jersey are understandably keen for the license renewal to be passed, with online gambling a significant growth industry in the state that also boosts the regional economy.
What are the proposals on gambling ads?
Senator Joe Cryan is one figurehead firmly behind the new legislative proposals that call for a review of how sports betting and casino operators advertize their services. The prospective ruling, known as “Bill S4021”, would stipulate to outright ban any gambling ads that could be interpreted as deceptive or fraudulent. Moreover, it would be the responsibility of operators to adjust their advertizing to adhere to these terms.
Under these proposals, operators would be prohibited from publishing casino or betting advertisements that appeal to anyone under the legal gambling age (21 years in New Jersey). This is already legally binding across the US. In addition, there are specific elements of these prospective bills that are designed to restrict advertizing deals between operators and academic institutions. Education and young people are both topics pertinent to Senator Cryan, who is known as a strong advocate for educational reform; Cryan has worked diligently to pass legislation that would increase funding for public schools and expand access to higher education.
What else is being done to tackle problem gambling in New Jersey?
New Jersey has implemented several legislative measures to date to address problem gambling and reduce gambling stigmatization in the state. This has included introducing a voluntary self-exclusion program relating to all casinos and racetracks for one year or more. In addition, measures have included mandates for casinos and racetracks to display signs warning patrons about the dangers of problem gambling.
Moreover, New Jersey has established a 24-hour confidential helpline for individuals struggling with problem gambling, providing counseling services and referrals to treatment centers. This service operates concurrently with the promotion of an education campaign aimed at raising awareness about problem gambling. Lastly, new legislation requires casinos and racetracks to provide information on responsible gaming practices and resources for those detrimentally affected by addiction.
Smoking in casinos is still common
Relating to smoking laws, pressure is mounting for a complete ban on smoking in New Jersey after years of attempts from lawmakers to close the aforementioned casino venue loophole. As mentioned, despite New Jersey banning statewide indoor smoking, the exemption for casinos allows a quarter of casino floors to be designated as smoking areas. However, opponents of this loophole typically note that this still impacts non-smokers and their overall gaming experience.
However, operators are concerned that a complete ban would negatively impact the attendance figures of physical casinos, particularly with gambling revenues already experiencing a decline in the last year. Nonetheless, research by Stockton University purported that 62% of attendees would support a full ban on smoking in casinos in New Jersey. In 2022, half of New Jersey’s 40 senators supported a ban on smoking in casinos, but the legislation failed to make it past the considerable legislative hurdles.
Casino employees commonly cite second-hand smoke risks
Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE) is one organization that intends to pass a total ban on smoking inside casinos. CEASE is a non-profit organization that operates specifically to protect casino employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke, founded in 2004 by a group of casino workers concerned about the associated health risks.
CEASE provides resources and support to casino workers who are affected by second-hand smoke, such as providing information on how to file a complaint or seek medical attention if required. Additionally, CEASE endeavors to educate the wider public about the risks of second-hand smoke. While anti-smokers are optimistic about a potential full ban, other commentators are concerned about the lack of progress with Pete Naccarelli of CEASE stating: “We’re officially in the same spot we’ve been for the past couple of years”.
In conclusion, the potential overhaul of advertizing and smoking laws in New Jersey may take months and years to advance. However, as one of the most progressive gambling states in the US, it is hoped that New Jersey will eventually endeavor to improve the safety, security, and overall gambling experience for all participants in the future.