New Jersey Becomes Third State to Legalize Internet Gambling
The Garden State joined the ranks of Nevada and Delaware and became the third state in the nation to legalize some type of Internet-based wagering with Governor Chris Christie having signed into law an online gambling bill yesterday afternoon. As expected, Christie, a first-term Republican, quickly inked his signature on the legislation after the state’s legislature approved changes he had requested as part of the conditional veto he issued on the bill back on Feburary 7th.
In handing down the conditional veto, Christie requested that the tax rate that casinos will be charged be raised from ten percent to fifteen percent. He also asked for a ten-year expiration date on the legislation, at which time the law will need to be re-examined and re-authorized by the state legislature. Another Christie amendment to the legislation involved carving out extra provisions for problem gamblers, a typical concern related to any form of gambling expansion.
The signing of the bill yesterday came as no surprise, considering Governor Christie had made remarks last week indicating that he would sign the bill as soon as New Jersey State legislators passed the amendments. In the weeks and months running up to the conditional veto, however, a great deal of uncertainty surrounded the issue, with many observers positing that Christie might veto the bill altogether, possibly because he has his eyes on national office and would as such potentially hew closely to the GOP’s anti-gambling stance.
In a statement issued early yesterday evening, Governor Christie said, “I am pleased to say that today I signed New Jersey’s Internet gaming bill, opening the way for new opportunity to bolster our efforts to continue the revival of Atlantic City, its casinos, and entertainment offerings.”
“This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly. But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible, yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole,” the statement continued.
Under the terms of the state constitution, the New Jersey gambling industry must be based in Atlantic City, and as such the servers for the gambling websites must be located in that city. Players will be able to log onto the websites from anywhere in the state to gain access to online poker as well as a variety of other forms of online betting, which is similar to what will be permitted in Delaware. Nevada, however, will be limiting online gambling to online poker only.
While the exact date when games will go live remains unknown pending action by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, in an earnings call Caesars Entertainment said it expects to begin offering Internet-based wagering in a roughly eighteen to twenty-four month timeframe.
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