After the first attempt at legalizing poker within the state of New Jersey failed last year, sponsor Raymond Lesniak has helped the new Senate Bill 1565 get over the first few hurdles on its way to becoming law.
In March of 2011, Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed the first incarnation of the New Jersey internet gambling bill. However, since that time there have been a number of developments and changes in the online gambling law landscape. The most important of which was the Justice Department’s change in opinion on the Wire Act.
The original interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act was that all forms of gambling across state lines are illegal. Although very outdated due to massive changes in technology since 1961, the Wire Act was the teeth behind the newly enacted Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. In December of 2011 the Department of Justice (DOJ) reversed their stance on how the Wire Act applies to internet poker. Here is an excerpt from that DOJ statement:
“We conclude that interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest,” 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a), fall outside of the reach of the Wire Act. Because the proposed New York and Illinois lottery proposals do not involve wagering on sporting events or contests, the Wire Act does not, in our view, prohibit them. Given this conclusion, we have not found it necessary to address the Wire Act’s interaction with UIGEA, or to analyze UIGEA in any other respect.”
Thanks to this and other changes in the online gaming landscape, Lesniak feels that there is a very strong chance that on May 31st that the New Jersey Senate will vote in favor of Bill 1565. He now estimates that online poker within the state of New Jersey will a reality sometime this fall.
Another important aspect of this bill is that it would also allow New Jersey to enter into an accord with other states, or even countries, as long as that area’s laws are also compatible. This is critical for smaller markets (such as individual states) where they may have a very difficult time gathering a critical mass of players. Without a sufficient number of players, it is difficult to keep tables running and give players a good choice of different types of games. This bill also states that online gambling revenues would be taxed at 10%, as opposed to the current tax of 8% on Atlantic City casinos.