he Assembly version of the bill was approved by a 63-11-3 vote. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie for his signature, which would enable New Jersey to become the first state to regulate Internet gambling.
Among the groups that have been instrumental in bringing the legislation to life is the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, or iMEGA. Its chairman Joe Brennan Jr. released a brief statement in the wake of the successful vote: “Congratulations to New Jersey’s legislators on their overwhelming vote in favor of the Intra-State Internet Gambling bill. It’s clear that New Jersey’s representatives want their state to be at the forefront of the online gaming industry, both in the US and globally.”
“With the combination of the top regulators in gaming, great information technology infrastructure, a highly-educated workforce, and the strong foundation and leadership of the Atlantic City casino industry, New Jersey is certain to lead this industry’s growth in the US, while creating high-paying, skilled jobs in the technology sector and also attracting investment to the state.”
The bill would create the first intrastate internet gambling framework in the U.S. and clear the way for existing land-based operators like Trump and Harrah’s to offer internet versions of their games, including poker. However, approval from Christie does not seem like a sure-fire bet.
A Press of Atlantic City article published Monday night summed up the major arguments for and against its passage: “Supporters say the move would put New Jersey ahead of other states that are moving to grab the online gaming market. But others remained cautious, saying that the state should not put itself in possible violation of Federal law.”
According to the Press, Lesniak’s bill would result in us$ 100 million in new revenue and, perhaps more importantly, create 500 additional jobs for the state, which saw Atlantic City gaming revenues dive by nearly 10% in 2010. New Jersey has come under fire from increased gambling options in neighboring states like Pennsylvania and Delaware. Lesniak’s bill calls for internet gambling revenues to, in part, help fuel horse racing purses for tracks located in the northern part of New Jersey.
Christie now has three options. He could sign the bill into law and create the first intrastate internet gambling framework in the United States. Alternately, perhaps fearful that the measure won’t stand up to a challenge from the U.S. Department of Justice, Christie could veto it. Then, a two-thirds majority of the legislature is required to overturn the veto. Christie’s final option is not to act on the bill for 45 days, at which point it would become law.