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New Jersey Online Gambling Bill Re-launched

By: Adam Richards, Friday August 26th 2011
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New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak's previous attempt to usher in a regulated intrastate online gambling regime in New Jersey had come to naught in March this year. His online gambling bill had been passed with overwhelming support by both the state Senate and House. However Republican governor Chris Christie had exercised his veto powers in the last minute to scuttle the bill.

At that time Lesniak had indicated that he would bring in a revised bill only after considering the governor's position. However, he has now given up on this stance and has gone ahead with the introduction of the bill. Addressing the media, Lesniak said that the governor has not yet changed his opinion. However he feels that the Republican representatives will prevail upon the governor and help him reassess his position.

Lesniak had last week indicated that he would now have to re-launch the bill on an urgent basis following news of the imminent shutdown of a major horse breeder in the state. The entire horse racing industry in New Jersey is in danger of collapsing unless subsidies are injected. And given the current financial situation, these subsidies can come only from a regulated and legal intrastate online gambling regime.

Lesniak's new bill is labeled S-3019. He has not tinkered with it too much because the previous bill had the wide support of the New Jersey legislators. He has however tried to address one concern that Governor Christie had raised. He has safeguarded against the mushrooming of Internet cafes that offer online gambling. Senator Lesniak also outlined the time frame he envisages for the bill. He wants it on the governor's desk before the end of 2011 after guiding it through the House and the Senate. Then it is up to the governor's Republican Party colleagues to walk the final mile.

Lesniak cites another need for the urgency. He is of the opinion that federal regulation will not be as favorable for New Jersey as his intrastate initiative. He said, "There's a big concern that New Jersey would be left behind in federal legislation. If New Jersey starts operations first, it would be very difficult for them to exclude us or diminish our role."

While the news from New Jersey is good, the news from California is not good. The effort to usher in intrastate legalization and regulation of online gambling has stalled. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg stated that there are several unresolved issues that will make it impossible to get any result this year. He listed some of them as tribal exclusivity, the games that would be authorized, the impact on sovereign nations' interests, federal constitutional issues and the process of gaming site licensee eligibility. The Senate Governmental Organization Committee will revisit the issue with a hearing to be held in January 2012.

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