Governor Chris Christie just signed a bill that will make online gambling legal in New Jersey, making his state the largest this far to allow the practice. The New Jersey state Senate and Assembly both approved a new version of the bill, which Christie submitted with changes after vetoing an earlier version, and Christie has now signed it into law. "This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly," Governor Christie said in a statement according to The Wall Street Journal. "But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole."
While the bill only allows Atlantic City casino companies to take online bets, the WSJ believes that those casinos will partner with overseas companies that provide services for online gambling, potentially opening up a bigger market. Furthermore, the bill will allow betters from other states to gamble online, so long as regulators determine that the activity isn't prohibited by any federal or state laws. It sounds similar to recent news out of Nevada, which allows for interstate online poker play.
"This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly."
The bill will allow gamers to bet money online for any game currently offered in Atlantic City's casinos. According to the AP, the goal of the program is to eventually draw online gamers into the casinos; gamblers will accrue comps like free hotel rooms and meals through playing online that will obviously have to be redeemed at an actual casino. The law will expire after 10 years, which will allow the state to review and decide whether the program was working. For now, Christie believes that the employment and economic benefits outweigh the concerns surrounding gambling addiction and potential corruption. It'll probably be six to twelve months before the system is up and running, but once it is, we imagine other states will be watching closely to see if they can implement online gambling themselves.
Governor Christie's full statement is below:
I am pleased to say that today I signed New Jersey’s Internet Gaming Bill, opening the way for new opportunity to bolster our efforts to continue the revival of Atlantic City, its casinos and entertainment offerings. This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly. But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole. I want to thank the sponsors for working quickly to include my recommendations to improve the bill.