New Jersey Gets Extremely Close to Legalized Intrastate Online Gambling

Majority vote in Assembly passes Lesniak bill

After a small delay, the bill sponsored by state Senator Ray Lesniak, legalizing intrastate online gambling in New Jersey, finally stood on the Assembly floor, which ruled in favor of the draft.

A grand majority of votes went in favor of the bill - 63 of them, and only 11 were against it, allowing the bill to pass into the hands of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who should now make the call. If he approves it, New Jersey will be the first state to exercise its prerogative under states rights to legalise most forms of online gambling, including: "...poker, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, big six wheel, slot machines, minibaccarat, red dog, pai gow, and sic bo; any variations or composites of such games, provided that such variations or composites, and any above listed game or variation or composite of such game to be offered through Internet wagering."

Christie, who was quite reserved about online gambling, has 45 days to make a decision about this highly popular bill, which cruised with impressive majorities through both Senate and Assembly.

What this bill provides are rather strict licensing requirements, as well as locally-focused regulation and operator presence. However, it wasn’t the only gambling-related proposal considered by the Assembly on Jan. 10.

According to the local media, one of the other bills envisages allocation of $30 million over three years in support of the state's struggling horseracing industry, and after amendments designed to obviate concerns raised by the governor, the bill passed 71-5.

The other bill envisaged a horse racing subsidy, the creation of the Atlantic City Casino District with state oversight, and reduction of the annual purse subsidy of­ $30 million in 2010 - to $15 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012, and $5 million in 2013.

Apart from these, the Assembly also passed a bill envisaging the creation of a Casino Gaming Study Commission, which should look into the financial implications of a land casino in Meadowlands; a proposal to relax regulations so as to make Atlantic City a more attractive proposition for casino operators; and a bill encouraging breeding of racehorses in the state.

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