After years of rankling and wrangling, New Jersey has become the first state in America to legalize the practice of online poker.
The recent vote by the State Assembly passed by a wide margin of 63-11, leaving the bill in need of only the Governor’s signature. All eyes now fall on the office of Governor Chris Christie, who has 45 days to make a decision. If he decides that the legislation needs a bit more refining, he can send it back to undergo changes. He could also veto it, but there has been no evidence that he would do so.
In fact, Christie has made very few comments regarding the potential legalization of online poker. He has, however, been quite keen on improving revenues for Atlantic City. With so much money to be made from internet gaming, it’d be a shock if he came up in opposition of the bill.
Assuming that the law passes as currently written, the new rules will go into effect on July 4, 2011. There are a few issues to consider here, specifically those of player population. While residents of the Garden State would enjoy simple deposit and withdrawal methods, the law will allow only gaming establishments operating within the state borders to offer their services.
This has led to concerns that major poker sites such as Full Tilt and PokerStars will pull out of New Jersey. A similar situation has already occurred in Washington, though without the benefit of legal play for its residents.
Poker won’t be on its own in the new gaming world. Atlantic City based gaming companies will also be allowed to run many of the same gambling mainstays they utilize in their brick and mortar bases. Roulette, blackjack, and other such games will enjoy the same legal protection as poker.
However things turn out, this stands as a momentous day for poker players. It’ll be interesting to see how the situation pans out.