By a 2 to 1 margin, the New Jersey State Assembly voted in favor of online gambling legislation, paving the way for a full Senate vote on Thursday and another go-round by Gov. Chris Christie.
The assembly vote found 48 ayes, while 24 assemblymen were against the measure and four abstained. Roughly two years ago, a similar bill was approved 63-11, but eventually was vetoed by Christie amid concerns that the bill violated the New Jersey Constitution that required all wagers to emanate from Atlantic City.
Though Monday’s vote was a bit less convincing than the ballot cast in January, 2011, many state lawmakers believe the time is right for New Jersey to enter the world of legalized online gambling. Especially since the matter is dead for now on the federal level.
“We must position New Jersey’s gaming industry to thrive in the 21st Century, and that involves authorizing a legally sound Internet gaming law,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli in a press release. “This is another key piece of our effort to boost New Jersey’s gaming industry by expanding and modernizing our wagering options. This will rejuvenate our tourist industry while increasing employment, capital investment and much needed urban development.”
The assembly vote follows last week’s revelation that PokerStars has been negotiating the purchase of an Atlantic City casino. The world’s top online poker site is hopeful that a land-based presence in gaming would allow for a smooth transition to online gambling. Bill A2578 was recently amended to remove a “bad actor” provision that would have prohibited sites like PokerStars from obtaining licensing for Internet gambling due to virtually ignoring the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Raymond Lesniak, extended open arms to the addition of PokerStars to the Garden State and said last week, “New investment in Atlantic City is good for New Jersey. PokerStars is the biggest company in online poker and we should welcome them bringing their American headquarters to New Jersey.”
Nevada and Delaware are the only states to have approved online gambling legislation thus far. Nevada is preparing to have online poker sites up and running in early 2013 under their poker-only format. New Jersey’s bill calls for the legalization of all casino games.
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