New Jersey Gambling Bill Awaits Governor's Autograph

03 January 2013

The holiday is over, and the new year has begun, which opens a whole host of possibilities, including the opportunity for New Jersey to develop its own online gambling initiative.

The bill that’s currently on the table, S1565, has passed overwhelmingly in the New Jersey houses is now on Governor Chris Christie’s desk, waiting for his final approval.

In late December, the backers of the bill, namely New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senators Raymond Lesniak, Jim Whelan and Jeff Van Drew wrote a letter to Governor Christie, signing with “We urge you to sign the legislation immediately. New Jersey cannot afford to miss another opportunity to lead on this front.” The letter sites all the economical reasons for online gambling in the NJ state, from an aging casino industry to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Read the letter to Governor Christie here.

While some articles, like the one posted at Philly.com, are skeptical about the bill getting the Governor’s autograph, others are more wait-and-see. True, the Governor vetoed a similar bill last year, but this year’s legislation addressed several of his previous sticking points. Couple that with the state’s spiraling casino economy and the turmoil surrounding Hurricane Sandy’s wake, and you have a piece of New Jersey online gambling legislation that could really make an impact on the state’s future.

What that future could be may be what’s causing the delay.

With the possibility of a federal online gambling bill now mostly out of the window, states are quickly drafting their own legislation to allow online gambling within their borders. The more states that pass this legislation, the more competition Atlantic City and its New Jersey beneficiaries will have. If New Jersey passes the legislation, it could open up a wealth of possibilities, including a Poker Stars-operated US online poker room if it succeeds in acquiring a casino presence there.

Thus the sense of urgency with the New Jersey representatives.

Said Lesniak:

“We have given him expert legal opinions in addition to my opinion that [the constitutionality issue] was solved by bets being taken in Atlantic City and only Atlantic City casinos being involved in Atlantic City gaming. If he doesn’t sign the bill, at least one Atlantic City casino if not more will close and thousands of jobs will be lost. “

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