- New Jersey Approves Legalized Online Gambling For Atlantic City Casinos

New Jersey Third State To Approve Regulated Online Gambling Sites

Governor Chris Christie signed an amended bill on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, making New Jersey the third state in the nation to sanction internet gambling.

Just as he had done in 2011, Christie vetoed the original bill when it arrived on his desk Feb. 7. But while his 2011 veto stemmed from his concerns regarding “judicial scrutiny,” and pressure from conservatives who expected him to play a role in the presidential campaign, Christie’s veto message in February indicated a willingness to sign the bill if it included a 10-year trial period and increased the state’s tax receipts from 10 to 15 percent. Both provisions were added to the measure signed by the governor.

The law is expected to be fully implemented within six to nine months, and will make available online to New Jersey residents and visitors all the games found in Atlantic City casinos, including slots, roulette, blackjack, poker and other table games. The games will be overseen by the casinos, because the state constitution prohibits gambling outside of Atlantic City.

Sen. Ray Lesniak sponsored New Jersey bill S1565 (introduced February 12th, 2012), which passed the Senate, 35-1, with bi-partisan support. Assembly bill A2578 (introduced 2/16/12) was then overwhelmingly approved by the state General Assembly, 68-5.

Christie’s approval of online gambling came on the same day that he released his proposed budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. There was no indication as to whether the damage incurred by the state as a result of Hurricane Sandy late last year influenced the governor’s decision to support the measure. But Christie’s budget indicates an anticipated increase in the state’s Casino Revenue Fund, from $235 million this year to $436 million next year, primarily due to legalized online gambling in New Jersey.

What Does This Mean For The Online Gambling Industry?

This is actually great news for everyone, not just players in New Jersey. This means that states are now becoming aware of all the money that is leaving their state-regulated gambling venues and going to overseas operators. All U.S. and state legislation to prevent online gambling has been rather ineffective, so why not embrace it?

That is exactly what New Jersey is doing and the future looks bright.

While A2578 specifically talks about Atlantic City casinos, it's not inconceivable to think this would also cover online poker somehow. If not, then provisions would surely have to be made. Online players are already please as John Pappas, Executive Director of Poker Players Alliance, explained to the Associated Press. “New Jersey has gone ‘all in’. Residents will now have access to a safe and regulated…market, and the state will have a new source of revenue and job creation,” said Pappas.

But despite almost unanimous approval by the Senate and General Assembly, some aren't convinced that the expansion of legal online gambling in the U.S. is going to be a good thing.

Many have expressed fears about the effects of expanded gambling across the U.S. as similar measures are now being considered in Pennsylvania and a handful of other states. Delaware and Nevada preceded New Jersey in approving online gambling, but NV & DE already had liberal land-based gambling laws that even allowed sports betting.

We'll have to wait to see who's next and who actually gets their online gambling regulation in place first. Other states will be taking notes and will want to see what this can actually mean in terms of revenue plus how hard it will be to implement.

They had better not take too long because there are rumblings that the Feds may beat the states to the punch by making online gambling something that would be federally regulated. The states aren't the only ones in debt and if interstate commerce will be involved, the Federal government is definitely going to have a hand in it.

This should be interesting...