New Jersey could have legalized online gambling as early as February 26. The state legislatures have said they will vote on amendments from Governor Chris Christie no later than the end of the month, and re-submit the online gambling bill to the Governor’s desk for approval. If Christie signs the bill – he has said he will – there will be legal online casinos serving the market as early as June.
New Jersey’s government voted in favour of online gambling prior to the Christmas holidays and submitted the bill to Christie. The Governor had until the beginning of February to officially sign the bill into law or veto the legislation. Christie delayed his decision until the deadline, which worried pro-gambling supporters that the legislation would be defeated and online gambling would remain illegal.
However, Christie instead issued a conditional veto, in which he agrees with most of the legislation but requires a few amendments before passing the bill into law. One of his conditions involves increasing the proposed online gambling tax from 10 to 15 percent – an increase that the legislature agrees is justifiable.
The Governor also wants lists of all online casinos that hold or are attempting to acquire a gaming license and a guarantee that a portion of online gambling revenue is used to support problem gambling support programs. The law will also be a 10-year trial run, which the government has the option to continue or eliminate legal online gambling upon the trial expiration.
Christie’s amendments are considered relatively minor, and political representatives have overwhelmingly agreed to the Governor’s requests. Several senators have spoken about the economic benefits of online gambling for New Jersey – particularly in how online casinos can help financially support ailing casinos in Atlantic City. Senate Speaker Steve Sweeney said in a press release that Christie made the right decision.
“The economic benefits to the region will mean additional revenue, additional jobs, and additional growth. It cannot be stressed enough how important it was that New Jersey be ahead of the curve on internet gaming.”
The legislature wants to vote on the amendments before the end of the month, and expect Christie will promptly sign the bill into law. The law will mandate operators to wait at least 90 days before offering digital games to the gambling market, but Sweeney expects all licensed online casinos will be running no later than September.