- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey is proposing another way to boost its Internet gambling market: letting casino companies hire and fund celebrities to play online poker with the public.

The state Gaming Enforcement Division unveiled a proposal Thursday to let Internet gambling licensees hire celebrities and provide them money with which to gamble.

The companies would pay the celebrities and allow them to keep any money they win. If they don’t let the celebrity keep his or her winnings, it would have to be reported as revenue for the casino.

The goal is to boost New Jersey’s Internet gambling industry, which won $122 million in its first full year in 2014, and has already matched that total in the first 10 months of this year.

Not everyone was rushing to embrace the proposal, however. Caesars Interactive, one of the four dominant Internet gambling operators in New Jersey, says it will take a pass until Internet gambling is expanded to other states, making for bigger player pools.

“We do commend the efforts of the state to add opportunities to better engage consumers in internet gaming,” spokesman Seth Palansky said.

The Borgata says it currently uses well-known poker players, “not Hollywood celebrities, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t,” senior vice president Joe Lupo said.

Internet gambling is currently legal in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. New Jersey’s efforts to forge interstate compacts with other states have thus far been unsuccessful.

A public comment period on the proposal ends Feb. 5.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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