The online gambling bill of New Jersey, which got a 33-3 vote in Senate on Thursday, is now at Governor Chris Christie’s desk.
Senator Ray Lesniak, the major sponsor of the bill, said:
I hope the governor will sign as soon as possible so we can save jobs, create jobs in Atlantic City, and bring much-needed revenue to our casinos and the treasury of the state of New Jersey.
The bill, if passed into law, makes it legal for casinos in Atlantic City to operate online poker rooms and online casinos. Governor Christie now has 45 days, starting the day on which the bill reaches his desk, to veto it, sign it, or do nothing about it. Senator Lesniak said that he will make sure the bill reaches the governor’s desk at the earliest possible.
Last year, the online gambling bill got a 32-4 vote in the house before it was sent to the governor’s desk, and unfortunately, the governor vetoed the bill. Expressing hopes that things happen differently this time, Lesniak said that the first online poker sites will appear in New Jersey within just 6 months if the governor approves the bill.
If the bill is passed, the online poker rooms will initially accept only players within New Jersey. However, Lesniak hopes that other US states will also legalize online poker so that New Jersey online poker rooms can be thrown open to other players too.
If online poker is legalized in New Jersey, PokerStars could return to the US as the online poker room is now trying to acquire a casino in Atlantic City.
The ball is now in Governor Chris Christie’s court. When he vetoed the previous year’s bill, he said that he was concerned about the bill being unconstitutional.
He was also concerned about the provision of subsidies for the horse racing industry and the mushrooming of Internet cafes all over New Jersey, encouraging people to gamble. This year, John B. Wefing, law professor at Seton Hall, was asked to establish that the bill could not be unconstitutional.
We have given him expert legal opinions in addition to my opinion that [the constitutionality issue] was solved by bets being taken in Atlantic City and only Atlantic City casinos being involved in Atlantic City gaming. If he doesn’t sign the bill, at least one Atlantic City casino if not more will close and thousands of jobs will be lost.