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New Jersey One Step Closer to Online Poker after Bill Approved

For the 600,000 New Jersey poker players already playing online, and state government officials anxious to add what would definitely be another fresh and substantial flow of money into the state coffers, legalized online poker and casino gambling in the Garden State just moved one step closer to fruition. On May 10 a bill was approved by the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee for passage onto a vote by the full Assembly. That could be the very first step to making New Jersey the first of the United States to allow their constituents legalized real money gambling on online poker, roulette and other casino games.  

That committee ruled 3 to 1 in favor of sending the proposed bill on for further voting, and the positive impact to the state government’s financial bottom line is hardly the only concern. Longtime proponents of online gaming in New Jersey, such as state Senator Ray Lesniak, point out that becoming the first of the 50 United States to legalize statewide online poker and casino gambling is crucially important for other reasons. He and other online gaming advocates believe that the first state to the online gambling market would gain much needed high-tech and high-paying jobs as the online gaming industry grows in that state, helping curb unemployment.

As is always the case, however, there are those politicians which argue against the passage of legalized online gambling. New Jersey state Senator Ralph Caputo believes that the Legislature should move first to allow for more brick and mortar casino gambling statewide before passing online regulation. Caputo is a former Atlantic City casino employee and executive, who has long advocated the addition of a table game casino to the Meadowlands Sports Complex. He has stated in the past he is not necessarily against legalized online gambling in the state, and recently stated he would like to see referendums this November that include both online and physical casinos and poker rooms.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli put the possible passage anytime soon of legalized online gambling in New Jersey in perspective. He stated recently that the annual budget talks are currently first and foremost on every politician’s mind in New Jersey, and wasn’t sure if the bill would be able to pass both legislative chambers before the Summer session ends. Under this current bill, the state budget would definitely benefit. For beginners, casinos would be required to pay $200,000 for a 1 year license to accept Internet wagering, with each successive year at $100,000. The state would then additionally receive an extra 20 percent of all revenues created from Internet wagering.

You may recall that Governor Christie stopped online gambling regulation in New Jersey last year, vetoing a similar bill. Christie claims to be seeking advice from the state Attorney General’s office regarding referendum requirements before the state legislator can vote on Internet gambling. The Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee also passed three other bills on May 10, one allowing simulcast horse race betting at the American Dream Meadowlands site. Another bill passed would allow the state’s equestrian fans to place horse racing wagers on their mobile devices while at New Jersey racetracks, and some feel passage of this virtual mobile wagering bill can only help the prospects of legalized online poker and casino gambling in the state. That bill was passed without dissent.