Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has long been a proponent of online gambling in some form. There is no question that billions of dollars are available to those states in the US which adopt some sort of online gambling legislation. And while Mr. Christie had previously on two occasions turned down the online gambling bills proposed to him, last week he said the most recent offering only needed slight tweaking for him to okay it. The changes were made, and the Governor from the Garden State made New Jersey the third state in the US to approve online gambling since the Department of Justice put that responsibility in state hands.
The brick-and-mortar casinos in Atlantic City have been struggling in recent years, as nearby physical casinos in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have drawn many of former Atlantic City casino customers to their doors. Delaware and Nevada have previously passed online gambling legislation in those two states, with Nevada last week becoming the first US state in history to legalize interstate gambling partnerships with other states. Christie made the announcement and approval on Tuesday, February 26, the same day he rolled out the NJ budget.
By becoming the third state to legalize online gambling, New Jersey puts itself at the forefront of a burgeoning billion-dollar industry in the US. When asked why he had previously rejected online gambling amidst his vocal support of such legislation, Christie stated that while he believes online gambling can be a financial boon to New Jersey, he was not going to rubber-stamp his approval until he was certain that New Jersey residents would have a safe and reliable online gambling infrastructure in place.
He called this new legislation “a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive.” He also mentioned the fact that this new bill makes for only a ten-year trial period of online gambling in New Jersey. It also increases the taxes on Atlantic City casinos’ online earnings to 15%, and requires that New Jersey residents and travelers located in the state boundaries open up an online account at physical casinos in Atlantic City. This move was obviously made to return Atlantic City to the title of eastern seaboard casino king.
The New York Times reported that the state Division of Gaming Enforcement will set an online gambling launch date anywhere from three to nine months from now. Different from the Nevada and Delaware online gambling legislation packages, New Jersey’s bill strives to draw new gamblers to Atlantic City by delivering complementary or “comp” packages earned through online play. These rewards would need to be redeemed in person at a physical Atlantic City casino. With this new revenue source, estimates are that state casino revenue in New Jersey will grow to more than $435 million next year. Incidentally, that is the same year that the NFL Super Bowl is hosted in the Garden State, and would be $200 million more than revenue last year.