The long wait has come to an end – sort of. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie issued a conditional veto to the online gambling bill that was approved by the state legislature in December. The Governor says a few other conditions must be attached to the bill before he can sign off on it. This means that New Jersey won’t legalize online gambling today, but pro-gambling senators believe an amended bill should become law by March 18.
A conditional veto means that the Governor does support the principle of the legislation, and will pass the motion into law as long as it meets a few additional requirements. Christie says he wants New Jersey to have a provisional 10 year trial period with online gambling, and that the state should have the option to review the law once the trial has run out. He also wants the tax rate on online winnings raised to 15 percent, up from the current 10 percent.
Christie has sent the bill along with his amendments back to the state legislature for review, but state senators believe the Governor’s requests are reasonable. Senator Raymond Lesniak is one of the architects of the original bill, and says the legislature hopes to vote on and pass Christie’s amendments before March 18 – at which point the Governor should finally sign the legislation into law.
This means an investment from PokerStars in the Atlantic Club casino should go ahead as expected. The owners of PokerStars submitted a bid to buy the casino last month, but pundits believed the purchase was contingent on legalized internet gambling. Insiders close to the purchase agreement believe PokerStars will use the Atlantic Club to house their internet servers to relaunch their online casino in New Jersey – and if the federal law ever passes, the entire US.
Lesniak says the 10 year trial period should be a sufficient enough timeframe to satisfy PokerStars.
“If it were five years, I think it would have been a concern. Ten years will make investment very attractive.”
Although the bill was technically vetoed, the conditions seem agreeable on all sides – meaning New Jersey will likely become the third state after Nevada and Delaware to legalize online gambling by the end of March.