By: Martin J. Milita, Jr. Esq., Sr. Director.
A New Jersey bill that would permit bars and restaurants to operate amusement games, including in entertainment establishments such as Dave & Buster’s Inc., cleared the Regulatory Oversight Committee unanimously with a vote of 5-0.
The bill, A-4143, seeks to repeal a 1959 law banning the games.
The proposed legislation would allow liquor license holders to obtain a license to operate amusement games, provided the establishment is at least 20,000 square feet and includes at least 100 games. The law would pave the way for businesses such as Dave & Buster’s to open locations in the Garden State, which it has shown an interest in doing, supporters say.
Dave & Buster’s operates 73 restaurants in 30 states and Canada, but has been shut out of New Jersey by a 56-year-old law that regulates games of chance and skill, and bans vendors that serve alcoholic drinks from obtaining a license to operate games that issue prizes.
A repeal of the law has been targeted by New Jersey’s Red Tape Review Commission, that looks to ease overly onerous regulations to promote economic development. Assemblyman Scott Rumana, R-Passaic, a member of the commission and a sponsor of the bill, called Dave & Buster’s business model a successful one. “It makes sense for New Jersey to allow this popular entertainment format,” Rumana said in a statement. “This model is successful in other states, particularly New York and Pennsylvania. These states are capitalizing on the recipe of combining amusements, food and drink under one roof.”
The New Jersey Amusement Association, an industry group of entertainment operators along the New Jersey shore, opposes the rule change. Members of the group fear the expansion of amusement games throughout the state would harm their businesses, likening the proposal’s impact to the increased competition faced by Atlantic City from neighboring states that have expanded casino gambling in recent years.
But, proponents insist that repealing the law will help the state bring in new jobs.
Please feel free to contact the author or your other Duane Morris Government Strategies LLC contact to learn more about this week’s legislative session and what it may mean to you.
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