Bill expected to be approved on March 15, 2012
New Jersey is primed to become one of the first states to introduce legalized and licensed online gaming. According to State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D), both houses of legislature are expeceted to pass his Online Gaming Bill that was introduced in August. The Senator also expects Governor Doug Christie (D) to approve the bill after state legislature approval, though he vetoed a similar bill in March 2011. If the bill passes through the state governement, online gaming will be available to New Jersey residents on September 1, 2012.
Sen. Lesniak’s Bill would allow NJ Gaming operators to offer online gaming with certain restrictions. The Bill would only allow software to be used within state borders and restrict residents under 21 from participating in online gaming. Furthermore, illegal operators would face heavy fines, including $1,000 per day per person as well as a $10,000 fine for any advertisements. Introduced in August, Lesniak revised the previously vetoed bill of 2011 in order to address Gov. Christie’s concerns with regulated online gaming.
Sen Lesniak ultimately believes that the approval of the bill in New Jersey and other states will eventually lead to compacts and profit sharing agreements for those states that regulate online gaming. “Only a handful of states can have a regulatory scheme and possess the experience in operating these types of games – obviously Nevada and New Jersey, and California,” stated Lesniak to PokerNews. “It would be a lot easier for most other states to have a compact with us and do a profit sharing agreement. Market share is very important in this business and that’s why it’s important to be there first.”
The New Jersey Online Gaming Bill comes about as Nevada Gaming Giants are beginning to make strides in offering online gaming. In December 2011, the Justice Department allowed financially struggling states to introduce online gaming to residents with the exception of sports betting. Several states have started to introduce bills to legalize intrastate online gaming. Furthermore, gaming lobbyists and pro-egaming congressmen are simultaneously pushing for federal legislation of online poker.
Though the online poker world has looked bleak in the past year, news from state legislatures and Washington DC provide optimism that regulated online poker will be available to US citizens. Given it’s approval in state legislature and the governor’s office, New Jersey’s Online Gaming Bill should provide license for gaming operators to set the foundation for the future of US online gaming.