New Jersey State Senator, Raymond Lesniak, is sponsoring a bill that is similar to one rejected by the state’s Governor, Chris Christie, last year. If passed by both of New Jersey’s legislative houses, the current bill would make it legal for casinos operating in Atlantic City to operate poker websites on the internet. Even though the bill was not presented to both houses last week as Lesniak had hoped, he still anticipates that New Jersey will be a legal hub for online poker by September of this year.
Because the Department of Justice ruled that the Wire Act is only relevant in cases involving sports betting late last year, Lesniak is also optimistic that the bill will enable New Jersey to enter into profit-sharing agreements with other states interested in receiving revenue generated by their residents who participate in viral poker games hosted by New Jersey’s casinos. Lesniak contends that only two other states, Nevada and California, have the experience and regulations in place to allow casinos within their borders to host online poker games, making such agreements between states likely.
Because of the financial liaisons he expects will be made between states, Lesniak also believes it is only a matter of time before the federal government will develop laws that regulate online gambling. Instead of seeing this as a problem, Lesniak sees possible federal legislation as an opportunity for his home state to reach out to international players and casinos in the future.
The bill Lesniak sponsors also attempts to legalize other online games in addition to poker. Even though federal legislation has been proposed in the past that suggested regulating poker while outlawing all other forms of online gambling, Lesniak does not believe the federal government will be successful at forcing New Jersey to pull its other games once the state bill passes. Instead, Lesniak believes that by offering these other games in the foreseeable future, before federal legislation possibly makes them illegal, New Jersey will be in an advantageous position in the event the federal government decides to legalize other online games, such as bingo and black jack, as well as poker in the future.
Even though Lesniak is optimistic that the bill will be passed by New Jersey’s legislature during April, 2012, his state still trails Nevada in the race to offer regulated online poker first. Nevada has already passed similar legislation and is taking applications from prospective candidates that want to host internet-based poker games.