New Jersey legislators on Monday, June 18 approved an Internet gaming bill by a vote of 6 – 0 – 3. That is important for several reasons, but mostly because the statehouse goes dark as soon as the state budget is resolved, with the earliest possible date being June 30. The specifics of the bill dictate that Atlantic City casinos could become hosts of online poker play, and every step forward is one step closer to New Jersey becoming only the second state to ratify legislation allowing legalized Internet gaming for their residents and visitors.
The fact that the bill was overwhelmingly accepted bodes well for the future of online gaming in New Jersey. Had there been another postponement by the assembly, any future voting would almost certainly take place after the house reconvenes from their summer break. State Senator Ray Lesniak (D – Union) is one of the leading proponents of this particular online gaming bill in the statehouse, and has been working with Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D – Gloucester) to rewrite the bill in friendly enough language so that they could ensure passage before the summer break.
New Jersey Governor Steve Christie vetoed a proposed Internet gaming bill that was very similar to the current one last year. As to whether there are any clues to Governor Christie’s position in the face of strong support from so many New Jersey legislators and lawmakers, his opinion is anyone’s guess. Christie last year stated that his opposition to the previous online gaming legislation centered around the fact that he felt the proposal was in direct violation of the state accepted constitution’s Atlantic City monopoly for such types of gambling.
However, at this year’s March assembly, Seton Hall Law School Constitutional scholar John B. Wefing reported that no such violation would take place if the computer servers used to host online gambling software were based in Atlantic City. Placing them in Atlantic City would mean that since no bet was actually made until the Atlantic City servers processed them, Atlantic City would still own the gaming monopoly. Steve Christie has repeatedly, in recent weeks, sidestepped the issue, claiming that his state’s budget problems were first and foremost in his mind, and that he would be happy to discuss the issue after the new budget is approved and a bill made it all the way to his desk.
In the past though, Christie has often times backed legislation that would aid the state’s struggling casino operations, and that same casino industry recently saw their official governing body support these new Internet gaming proposals. Even if legislation was passed tomorrow to legalize online poker in New Jersey, actual play would be months away. And with the budget issue looming in New Jersey, and coming to a head as early as June 30, New Jersey residents can only hope for some type of online poker legislation being passed sometime in the third or fourth quarter of 2012.
As New Jersey works on their legislation, you can enjoy some online gambling in the interim at any of our featured UnitedStatesGamblingOnline.com legal online gambling sites.