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New Jersey House Assembly Passes Bill to Regulate Online Gambling

10 January 2011 by Devon Chappell

Breaking news! The New Jersey House Assembly has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would effectively regulate online gambling in the US. By a vote of 63 yay’s and 11 nay’s, Senator Raymond Lesniak’s bill well-exceeded the 41 votes needed for passage onto Governor Chris Christie’s desk. The bill was already approved by the Senate, thus making Governor Christie’s signature the last action needed to pass Senator Lesniak’s bill into law.

And therein lies the rub. Well, a potential rub. Governor Christie has thus far been tight lipped about his feelings on the bill and online gambling in general. Although Christie is a Republican, which has been the party of choice to put forth legislation (cough, cough, the UIGEA) to resist liberalizing internet betting, he is also Governor in a State that relies heavily on gambling revenue.

It’s no surprise that Atlantic City has been historically opposed to online gambling regulation. Regulation has long represented a threat to the wellbeing of Atlantic City (and land-based casino gambling interests in general), which we all know isn’t doing that well for itself these days. While Vegas casinos and resorts are facing some tough times of their own, Atlantic City is truly on the verge of becoming another Coney Island.

One of the last hopes for Atlantic City is to actually begin regulating online gambling, and in particular, online poker. There’s no denying that New Jersey citizens (including the cast of “Jersey Shore” :)) are playing online poker, which amounts to some serious tax revenue just being thrown away.

The thing about Senator Lesniak’s bill that has warmed up Atlantic City casino operators is that it gives established AC casinos first dibs (possibly exclusive dibs) to launch their own internet betting sites and begin cashing in on the New Jersey gaming traffic. In other words, it’s a whole new revenue stream that could very well help fill the growing void New Jersey’s brick ‘n mortar casinos have not been able to do anything about, and also bring some badly needed tax revenue to the State itself.

Of course, if Governor Christie decides to give online gambling a go in the Garden State, a whole new agenda to get federal online gambling regulations passed in the US could be surfacing soon thereafter. While individual State regulation could end up proving “messy” down the road, if enough State’s take action (even just New Jersey), it stands to reason that federal officials will have a reality check as to how much tax revenue is actually being lost, and which could otherwise help a fast-growing deficit and fund badly needed projects like health care and renewable energy.

2 Responses to “New Jersey House Assembly Passes Bill to Regulate Online Gambling”

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  2. James says:

    This is great news! One state down!