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New Jersey Approves Online Gambling Bill

By: Adam Baker, Tuesday January 11th 2011
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On Monday January 10, 2011 the New Jersey Assembly approved the online gambling bill A-2570. The corresponding sports betting bill S-490 was approved by the Assembly late in December 2010. The online gambling bill was to have been approved simultaneously, but certain amendments required ratification and hence the vote was held back and scheduled for January 6. On that day also a vote could not take place and a fresh date of January 10 was given. Now New Jersey online gamblers will not mind the minor blips because a major landmark has been achieved.

The Assembly voted in favor of the bill with a huge majority and cutting across party lines. There were 63 votes in favor of the bill and only 11 votes against the bill. Three legislators abstained from voting. The bill will now be sent to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his signature. If he does that then New Jersey would become the first legal online gambling jurisdiction in the United States. Even if the Republican governor does not take any action in the statutory 45 day period, his assent will deemed to have been given and the bill would become law. That the governor may reject the bill cannot be removed from the realms of possibility. But the bill has received bipartisan support in the Assembly and that will make it very difficult for the governor not to sign the bill. The governor would have to come out with some really special reasons to counter the claims that the bill will create 500 high tech jobs and add significantly to the state revenue in these troubled times.

The New Jersey online gambling bill has been sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak. It would allow licensed operators to offer online poker and online casino games. The online casino games would include roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, big six wheel, slot machines, red dog, pai gow poker and sic bo. The bill also specifies that licenses for offering online gambling services would be issued to licensed Atlantic City land casino operators. Also the servers and other infrastructure for offering the online gambling would have to be placed in a secure Atlantic City location.

The approval of this bill coincided by chance with the release of Atlantic City land casino statistics for 2010. The gambling revenue fell by 9.6% in 2010. Though it was not as bad as the 13% fall registered in 2009 it will not bring any cheer to the casino industry. It is widely believed that the Atlantic City land casinos can reverse this trend only by introducing online gambling as a separate vertical.

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