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N.J. Senate approves online gambling bill

22 Nov 2010

By Vin Narayanan
The New Jersey Senate voted 29-5 Monday to allow Atlantic City casino operators to offer online gambling to New Jersey residents.

The bill was amended to allow residents of other countries to wager on the Atlantic City sites. People living in other U.S. states would not be allowed to play on the sites.

The amended bill also includes a 15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue.

If the New Jersey State Assembly passes the bill, and it is signed into law by Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey would become the first state in the U.S. to offer licensed intra-state online gambling.

The bill, authored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, authorizes the online offering of "poker, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, big six wheel, slot machines, minibaccarat (sic), red dog, pai gow, and sic bo; any variations or composites of such games, provided that such variations or composites, and any above listed game or variation or composite of such game to be offered through Internet wagering."

The bill also specifies that Internet gambling operators have to be licensed Atlantic City casino operators, and that all equipment used to conduct Internet gaming be located either in Atlantic City casinos or a "secure" location in Atlantic City.

In an interview at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) last week, Sen. Lesniak told the APCW he expects the governor will sign his bill into law before the end of the year.

"It's going to be presented to the governor and I don't think he's going to have any option but to sign it before the end of the year," Lesniak said.

"We have to put forward that will take some time, but we're very well versed in regulating gambling... so we're in good shape to get this rolling as soon as possible."

Lesniak said he also understands he's raising international trade issues by allowing people outside the U.S. to gamble online in New Jersey.

"We are going to be raising World Trade Organization issues by taking international gaming in New Jersey and showing how juvenile our federal government's policy is with regards to gaming," Lesniak said. "It makes no sense, we're trying to isolate and segregate something people want to do, they do everywhere, and we create a mass of restrictions that's unconstitutional and quite frankly just dumb in terms of governmental policy."
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