Online gambling is starting to surge in New Jersey and that’s good news for some of the state’s neediest citizens.
Back in the 70s when New Jersey legalized casino gambling, a big selling point was where the casino tax dollars would go: aid for the elderly and disabled. When online gambling was legalized, the deal was the same, though the tax rate was higher, at 15 percent rather than 8 percent for brick and mortar casinos.
“The revenue from New Jersey’s tax on internet gaming is deposited in the state’s Casino Revenue Fund,” explains Jackson Brainerd, who studies gambling for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “The monies in this fund are used to benefit the elderly and people with disabilities.”
And they aren’t allowed to be used for anything else, Brainerd says.
So, what exactly do those tax dollars pay for? The NJ statute states: “Moneys in the Casino Revenue Fund shall be appropriated exclusively for reductions in property taxes, rentals, telephone, gas, electric, and municipal utilities charges of eligible senior citizens and disabled residents of the State, and for additional or expanded health services or benefits or transportation services or benefits to eligible senior citizens and disabled residents, as shall be provided by law.”
Along with financial aid that helps with housing and utility expenses, those monies go for a host of other services designed to make life easier for the elderly and the disabled, including home meal delivery programs, adult day care programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease, transportation, and help with home repairs.
Though online gambling had a slow start in the state, it’s been on the rise, climbing steadily month by month. In fact, 2017’s winnings of $245 million online represented a 25 percent increase over 2016’s. While that’s an impressive rise, it’s still just a fraction of the amount taken in by the brick and mortar casinos, which reported $2.6 billion in winnings during 2017.
Even so, because of the higher tax rate, internet gambling is contributing a significant amount for the care and welfare of the elderly and disabled of the state.
And it looks like things will continue on the upswing. In the first month of the 2018, online gambling in New Jersey saw an increase of nearly 10 percent over last January, with nearly $22 million in winnings, according to a Division of Gaming Enforcement Report. The taxes, at 15 percent of that, means that the Casino Revenue Fund will be raking in over $3 million just for the first month of the year.