In New Jersey, the coronavirus pandemic has affected casinos in Atlantic City as well as the state’s racetracks. The venues are operating on a much smaller scale, while trying to stay safe and produce revenues. Other aspects of the gambling world are also facing issues due to the pandemic. In the state, bingo has long been a gambling game played by seniors as well as for charitable organizations. But how can these games take place now due to crowd limitations? A bill is currently under consideration that could help bingo games take place during this unprecedented time.
New Bill Effort
Last week, the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee moved a bill forward that will allow organizations that offer bingo games as well as other types of contests to offer them remotely.
The legislation is sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho and Senator Vin Gopal. The bill would place the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission in charge of determining which contests should be allowed.
According to Oroho, there are many non-profit organizations and charities that use the games as a form of revenue. It is in fact, their primary source. The rules and guidelines restricting indoor gatherings due to the pandemic have not caused these events to be postponed or cancelled. This stops the revenue flow of these organizations.
By allowing remote contests as the bill suggests, it would ensure that these organizations can continue to function and offer services as they normally would. Oroho pointed out that the virus has impacted every aspect of life and that alternatives must be found on how to complete tasks.
Bingo is still bingo, whether the numbers are called in person or remotely. With the legislative change, organizations that host such games would be able to set up online options and provide remote services. The online option would actually allow more players to participate and could open up the organizations to even more donations.
Gopal pointed out that during this time, it is still important for organizations to be able to raise money for their causes. This type of activity benefits the public which is needed at this time.
A companion bill was introduced by Assembly members Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling. Downey commented on the effort by stating that while people may not can be in one room together, they can donate and participate in functions by using proper technology.
Houghtaling commented as well, stating that it is important for the government to do what they can to help struggling organizations and communities. By allowing the groups to offer fundraising online in a safe manner, it is the least the government can do during these trying times.
The bill is also a great way to discourage under the table options, which would surely take place if there was not a legal remote solution. It will be interesting to see if the option is approved and if any time frame restrictions will be included, such as stopping remote options once the pandemic is no longer a threat.