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New Jersey Online Gambling Bill Clears Legislature

By: Ryan Alders, Tuesday December 25th 2012
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Once again a bill proposing regulated intrastate online gambling in New Jersey has cleared both the state Senate and Assembly. The Senate voted almost unanimously in favor of the bill on December 20, with the tally being 33 to 3. Simultaneously the Senate voted to amend and supplement the existing Casino Control Act to make it compatible with the proposed bill. Earlier on December 18 the New Jersey House of Assembly had indicated its approval for the online gambling bill. The proponents in the Assembly outnumbered the opponents by a margin of almost 2 to 1. The Assembly vote went 48 in favor, 25 against with 3 abstentions.

The arguments in the Assembly debate were particularly interesting. Democrat Vincent Prieto pointed out that almost all activities have migrated to the Internet and have taken advantage of the revenue options offered. New Jersey’s gaming industry should not be left behind. He added that this was a carefully crafted bill designed to ensure that all required precautions have been built in. Finally, a part of the revenues have been earmarked for the benefit of senior and disabled citizens. Fellow Assemblyman and Democrat, Ruben Ramos supported these views, saying, “It will mean economic growth and job creation for our state.”

The bill now goes to the desk of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The Governor has 45 days in which to sign the bill into law or veto it. If he takes no action in this period then the bill is deemed to be accepted by him and it becomes an act. Two years ago a similar intrastate online gambling bill had been passed by the Assembly and the Senate, but had been vetoed by Governor Christie. This time around changes have been made to the reincarnated legislation that should take care of the Governor’s misgivings. Christie has gone on record stating that he is in favor of this version of the online gambling bill. Another factor that is likely to help get a favorite response from the Governor is that New Jersey is reeling in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy and urgently needs the revenues that online gambling will generate.

The main sponsor of the bill, Democrat Senator Raymond Lesniak, said in a statement, “By allowing casinos to tap into the burgeoning trend of Internet wagering, we can put New Jersey at the forefront of this lucrative gaming market and give our casinos the competitive edge they need in the current economic climate.” New Jersey is ultimately looking to form multi-state compacts as is prevalent in the PowerBall system. It has also indicated that it may allow international player pools from jurisdictions where online gambling is legal, provided federal law permits this.

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