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New Jersey Online Gambling Bill Delayed

By: Adam Richards, Wednesday December 15th 2010
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The momentum that the New Jersey online gaming bill had gathered over the last few weeks has hit a minor roadblock. The bill was not put to the vote on the full Assembly floor on December 13 as planned. However the sports betting bill was put to vote on the floor of the Assembly as scheduled and was passed by an overwhelming majority.

The delay in the online gambling bill arose because of a last minute minor amendment made to the bill before it was voted unanimously by the New Jersey Assembly. The amendment involved a reduction in the proposed 5% racing levy after five years of the bill being in place. The levy was introduced to compensate traditional race tracks from expected loss of business when online gambling came into effect. According to set procedure any change in the tax structure or tax implications in any bill requires re-examination and re-approval by the Appropriation Committees in the Senate and the Assembly before it is put to a floor vote. A source close to the bill's proponents said, "There are no changes to the bill's prospects. It is still expected to be overwhelmingly approved by both the Senate and Assembly. Unanimous passage by the gaming committees in both houses is ample proof of that." The bill is now expected to go before the full Assembly on January 6, 2011, after the holiday season is over.

The online gambling bill when enacted would permit New Jersey residents to gamble online at licensed and regulated Internet sites, which would be operated by Atlantic City land casino owners. Residents of other American states and international customers will not be allowed to participate. This move would revive that ailing Atlantic City casinos. In November, Atlantic City's 11 casinos reported a 12.5% fall in revenue compared to 2009. Senator Lesniak, the sponsor and architect of the bill, has previously said it would generate "millions of dollars in private revenue and would give casinos a new product to capture gaming dollars from tech-savvy gamblers". He had pointed out that the bill would also generate a minimum of $35 million in tax revenue.

Meanwhile, on December 13, the Democrat driven package of gaming and sports betting bills was cleared by the full Assembly. The bill needed only 41 votes for approval. However 54 legislators voted in favor of the bill and only 17 voted against the bill with four legislators abstaining. This bill seeks to establish America's first online betting exchange that will allow punters in the New Jersey land casinos and racetracks to engage in sports betting. The law will also permit out-of-state residents to bet on horse racing online.

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