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NJ Seeks to Scrap Outdated Law

A bill to eliminate an archaic state law that bans New Jersey residents from participating in contests of skill was approved by a Senate committee today.

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Flickr User Keith Ramsey

The measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic) said that participation in a contest of skill in which a person pays an entry fee for the opportunity to win money or something else of value is not considered a game of chance and doesn’t constitute unlawful gambling.

“This addresses the reluctance of some contest sponsors to accept entries from New Jersey residents because of their belief doing so would violate New Jersey’s gambling laws,” said Eustace. “As it stands now, New Jersey residents are barred from participating in anything even as simple as a baking or photography contest.”

The legislation defines “contest of skill” as any contest where the winner or winners are selected solely on the quality of an entry in the contest as determined by a panel of judges using uniform criteria to assess the quality of entries. A “contest of skill” doesn’t include any contest, game, pool, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance.

“The confusion on this point is apparently the result of a misinterpretation of New Jersey case law that addresses gambling, so let’s clear this up and bring some common sense,” explained Eustace.

The bill was unanimously approved by the full Assembly in May and now awaits final legislative consideration by the full Senate.

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