New Jersey Lawmakers Legalize Online Gambling
New Jersey is just a Governor’s signature away from becoming the third state in the country to legalize online betting:
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey legislators gave final approval Tuesday to a bill legalizing gambling over the Internet, sending it to Gov. Chris Christie, who has indicated he will sign it quickly.
The state Assembly and Senate passed an updated version of the bill that Christie vetoed on Feb. 7, making the changes he asked for including setting a 10-year trial period for online betting, and raising the taxes on the Atlantic City casinos’ online winnings.
Assuming Christie signs the bill — he said last week he would do so quickly if the legislature made the changes he wanted — New Jersey would become the third state in the nation to legalize gambling over the Internet. It also would represent the largest expansion of legalized gambling in New Jersey since the first casino began operating in Atlantic City in 1978.
Nevada and Delaware have passed laws legalizing Internet betting, which also is going on offshore, untaxed and unregulated.
“Finally, some good news for Atlantic City’s future,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, one of the strongest proponents of online gambling. “Internet gaming will give an immediate boost to the outlook for Atlantic City’s future, preventing the closing of at least one casino, and saving thousands of jobs. Now we can get to work making Atlantic City the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming by being the hub for other states to join.”
The idea is to help the struggling casinos by attracting new gamblers who are not now visiting the casinos. The comps, like free hotel rooms, show tickets, meals or other freebies, would be accrued from online play, but would have to be redeemed in person at a casino, presumably enticing a player to spend more money while there.
The bill would allow gamblers in other states to place bets in New Jersey as long as regulators determine such activity is not prohibited by federal or any state’s law. It even has provisions for allowing people in other countries to play, although federal law would have to be changed before that could happen, Lesniak said.
There have been efforts in Congress in recent years to life the Federal ban on offshore online gambling, most recently a joint effort by retired Congressmen Ron Paul and Barney Frank. If Congress doesn’t act, then perhaps the states will start taking action themselves.