Back in December, the New Jersey Assembly and the NJ Senate had both approved a bill to allow internet gaming in the State. The Bill needed to be ratified by the Governor, Chris Christie within 45 days.
That 45 day period was up on the 4th of February this year, and the answer wasn’t as clear cut as most people would like. While Gov. Christie didn’t say “Yes,” he hasn’t really said “No” either.
What Gov. Christie has indicated is that if certain changes to the bill are met, he will sign it into New Jersey Law, and online gaming in New Jersey will be legal, regulated, and safe.
The bill would allow casinos to host online gaming based from their casino properties, with the games that could be offered including poker, and traditional pit games such as roulette, blackjack, craps and slots.
With analysts saying that inside 5 years this regulation could put an additional $150million in the states coffers per annum, this conditional veto could be swiftly overcome.
Gov. Christie’s conditions for passing a future version of this bill include:
- Giving broad authority to the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to define and limit the rules of internet gaming
- Increasing the Tax rate on internet gaming revenues from 10% to 15%
- Increasing the costs of obtaining an internet gaming permit
- Adding a clause that the legislation would expire after 10 years
- Requiring that all equipment used to conduct internet gaming be on the premises of a licence casino
- To require the DGE to provide a yearly report on the impact of problem gambling and addiction
Although Gov. Christie didn’t sign the current bill into law, the generally positive outlook towards his veto has been felt in the stock market. Zynga, who offer online gambling through Facebook, saw an 11% jump in their share price on the Monday following the decision, while Bwin.Party saw their share price jump a massive 19%.
Online poker industry leaders The Rational Group, who own both Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker are also in final negotiations to purchase The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. This Atlantic City base would open this market up to these massive brands, and while this deal has yet to be rubber stamped, this news can only strengthen The Rational Group’s drive to get into this market.
The Poker Player Alliance (PPA) were pleased with the outcome, and in a statement they issued they said:
“Today, Governor Christie took a critical step toward re-building New Jersey’s economy and establishing strong standards so that Internet gaming will be enjoyed responsibly,” said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. “While the New Jersey legislature has some work to do before this bill becomes law, we believe this is a victory for New Jersey residents who reached out to the Governor in droves expressing support for this bill.… We urge the legislature to act swiftly to pass this important legislation.”
New Jersey, still reeling after the effects of Hurricane Sandy and the current economic climate, is now taking the lead in the regulation of online gambling in the US. With Nevada and Delaware both having legislation in place, the first hand of online poker to be regulated by the US Government can only be a matter of time.