New Jersey Governor Signs Bill to Legalize Online Gambling
It’s been a very long wait for proponents of legalized online gambling in the state of New Jersey, but the wait is finally over. On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that would allow Atlantic City casinos to present online casino games, including virtual representations of the same slot machines and table games found in its land-based casinos, to residents of the Garden State.
This latest bill was a revision of previous attempts proposed by supporters of online gambling in the state. Governor Christie shot down the last two proposals, but on his most recent veto, made the announcement that he was clearly in favor of legalization. He offered several key points that would need to be adjusted, and the literature was quickly resolved to meet his requirements. The bill was swiftly approved by both the Assembly and the Senate on Tuesday, receiving heavy favor from both parties (Assembly votes 68-5-1; Senate votes 35-1). It was immediately delivered to Governor Christie’s desk and signed into effect that same day.
Shortly after his signature dried on the parchment, Governor Christie gave a statement. “I am pleased to say that today I signed New Jersey’s Internet gaming bill, opening the way for new opportunity to bolster our efforts to continue the revival of Atlantic City, its casinos, and entertainment offerings.”?
Christie went on to add, “This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly. But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible, yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole.”?
And with that, New Jersey has become the third state in the US to legalize online gambling on an intrastate level. Delaware was the first to sign a similar bill, permitting the supplication of online casino games and online poker. Nevada quickly followed suit, but chose to restrict its legalization to online poker for the time being, likely for fear that online casino games might diminish the revenue generated by its conglomeration of land-based gambling establishments.
Upon hearing that New Jersey would be legalizing online gambling in the very near future ““ what turned out to be the very next week – Nevada officials went one step further by writing up legislation to open its borders to interstate online gambling as well. Should New Jersey decide to write up similar directives and ink a contract with Nevada, residents of both states would be permitted to do their online gambling at both New Jersey- and Nevada-based online gaming sites.
For the moment, the new online gambling laws in New Jersey will allow Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar gambling operators to set-up online gaming sites, accessible to all legal-age residents of the state (excluding anyone who is on the self-exclusion list, of course). The state constitution already has a strict law in place that constrains all gambling in New Jersey to within the city limits of Atlantic City. That same law trickled down to the new online gambling regulation, which is why only live casinos are being permitted to apply for online gaming licenses. The servers must be based in Atlantic City, and the websites must be amended to each live casino’s existing web site.
None could be happier about the passage of New Jersey’s online gambling bill than The Rational Group, the parent company of the world’s largest online poker site, PokerStars. The company has already completed negotiations to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel for an undisclosed amount. This puts PokerStars in a perfect position to apply for licensing to operate an online gaming website on US soil; a future none would have predicted after the notorious Black Friday debacle of April 2011.