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Tuesday June 26th 2012

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Promising Future of Online Casino Gambling in New Jersey

New Jersey State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak’s attempt to legalize online gambling in the state has made significant progress. In an attempt to stem the tide of declining casino profits and lower tax revenues, the New Jersey State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee overwhelmingly approved a measure that would allow state residents to play in online casinos managed by the struggling Atlantic City casino resort properties.


State Senator Ray Lesniak has proposed the bill, labeled S490, as a way to remedy the state’s economic woes. Yesterday his bill, S490 and its companion S11, were approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and they await a full Senate vote.

S-490 would authorize the state’s Atlantic City casinos to offer online versions of their games to New Jersey and also to international customers. The bill is meant to bridge the state’s budget gap and support the state’s flailing horse racing industry. The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) estimate that New Jersey’s intrastate gambling system could raise up to $250 million in gross revenue and $55 million in taxes per year. According to the text of the bill, the games that casinos would be allowed to offer online include:

[Roulette] 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,

The senate committee passed the bill by a vote of 10 to 1. Political observers expect the bill to pass sometime early in 2011. If and when it does, New Jersey will become the first US state to allow online gambling within its borders.

While it shouldn’t have taken a budget crisis to move this forward and the state should not be subsidizing the horse racing industry, it is a step toward freedom for individuals who wish to gamble. If other states follow New Jersey’s lead and legalized Internet gambling within their borders, states could enter into agreements that allow residents to gamble online at each other’s online casinos. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than a blanket ban.

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