Online gambling bill passes in New Jersey

Posted on: January 11th, 2011 10:06 am | By: Jeremy Schrute

Finally, New Jersey may be known for something in the popular culture other than skanks and drunken self-absorbed idiots on a MTV reality TV show (to be fair, I’m sure there are a lot of great things about the Garden State; we just don’t hear about them). Late last night, the state Assembly passed online gambling legislation that, if signed into law, will make New Jersey the first U.S. state to regulate the activity.

During a late-hours emergency session, the state Assembly passed Ray Lesniak’s online gambling bill by a margin of 63-11. The bill would create an intrastate online gambling industry in New Jersey, with the existing Atlantic City casinos able to obtain licenses from a new regulatory authority to offer Internet gambling. Only residents of New Jersey could legally wager at the online casinos.

Lesniak states that the legislation, which would regulate both online poker and casino games (unlike Harry Reid’s failed federal bill), will generate approximately $350 million in revenue every year for the state. In order to avoid problems with the federal government (such as the banking rules of UIGEA), the online casinos have to be located within the state of New Jersey and only residents who are physically located in the state can play at the casinos. In that case, no interstate or international commerce is involved, so it is outside the authority of the federal government.

Last November, the state Senate passed the same bill by a margin of 29-5. The final stage for the bill before it becomes law is for it to be signed by Governor Chris Christie, a fiscally conservative Republican with a platform focusing on reviving the state’s economy. He is expected to sign the bill within the next couple weeks.

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