New Jersey One Step Closer to Legalizing Online Poker

New Jersey passed a crucial first hurdle in its latest bid to legalize and regulate intrastate online gaming today. The New Jersey Assembly voted 48-24-4 in favor of bill A-2578, a bill that authorizes online casino gaming – including poker – within New Jersey’s borders.

A-2578 is similar to a bill that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed in 2011. At the time, Christie cited concerns about the proliferation of “internet cafes” for gambling purposes, and raised questions regarding the constitutionality of the measure under the New Jersey state constitution.

The new bill addresses those concerns in two ways. First, it establishes penalties for the operation of internet cafes for gambling purposes. Second, it specifies that all computer servers and other equipment used to offer online gaming in New Jersey must be physically present in a casino in Atlantic City in order to comply with the state constitutional requirement that gaming be confined to Atlantic City limits.

Next up for New Jersey online gaming is a vote on an identical bill in the New Jersey Senate. That vote could take place as early as Thursday, December 20. State Senator Ray Lesniak, a critical supporter of New Jersey’s efforts to regulate intrastate online gaming, has expressed confidence that the bill will pass in the Senate.

Assuming it does, the bill would then head to Gov. Christie’s desk for his signature or veto. To date, Christie has not indicated if he would be likely to sign the measure into law this time around.

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Kevin McGrady

Legislative and Politics Beat Writer: Kevin McGrady practiced corporate law in New York City for eight years before moving to Las Vegas in 2008 to join the gaming industry. Kevin is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University School of Law.
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