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New Jersey Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Committee

Apr 5, 2012
Author: Michael Mancini
New Jersey Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Committee

New Jersey made a small step towards legalizing and regulating online poker within the state, as a bill designed to allow Atlantic City casinos to run online gambling sites passed its first test in the state legislature.

The bill passed a Senate committee by an 11-0 vote, with just a single abstention. The next step will be a full vote on the Senate floor.

Last year, New Jersey legislators passed a bill that, among other gambling changes, would have permitted the licensing of online gambling sites. However, Governor Chris Christie ultimately vetoed that bill, citing concerns over whether the bill would conflict with federal laws prohibiting the operation of online gambling businesses.

However, the state – among several others in the country – decided to revisit the issue after the US Department of Justice clarified their position on the Wire Act, which had previously been the basis of legal opinions that online gambling would not be allowed in the United States. Under the new interpretation, the Wire Act was read to only apply to sports betting, opening the door for the possibility of online poker and casino games.

Now, New Jersey sees online poker as a potential boon for the struggling Atlantic City casino industry. Under the terms of the law, only casinos in the city would be licensed to offer online poker in New Jersey. Furthermore, these sites wouldn’t be restricted only to those who live in the state; players from around the United States and throughout the world would be welcome to play, provided that online poker was legal in their jurisdictions as well.

The biggest question facing the bill may once again be whether Governor Christie will choose to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. However, reports say that the governor is offering “guarded support” for the bill, which has given online poker fans some hope that the bill may make it into law.

If the bill were to pass, it would make New Jersey the second state to pass a law authorizing online gambling. They would follow Nevada, which expects to begin issuing licenses in the next few months.

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