Update: New Jersey One Step Closer to Online Gambling Legalization

Lesniak's bill makes it through key committee

Among a dozen bills passed on Dec. 9 by the state House of Assembly's Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee was also Senator Ray Lesniak's bill proposing the intrastate legalization of online gambling in New Jersey, which has already made it through several committees and a Senate vote.

According to the local media, the whole rush about the bills, which for the most part aim at reviving the state horse racing and Atlantic City casino industries, was to send them to Governor Christie's desk before the end of the year. Christie expressed his opinion that is not generally opposed to online gambling, but that the legality of the concept was still being reviewed by his administration.

At the stage it has reached, the Lesniak bill could face the Assembly as early as Dec. 13, which may turn it into the first state to legalize online gambling.

Another measure will receive the committee's support - the one that seeks a statewide referendum next fall on legalizing sports betting at Atlantic City's casinos, as well as at the Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park.

The Democrat Senator Lesniak assessed before the committee that New Jersey would not go against federal restrictions on online gambling if the intrastate bill is passed, adding it was proved by an economic analysis that Internet gambling would produce between $210 million to $250 million in annual gross revenues.

Based on the bill, there will be a 15 percent tax on Internet gaming revenue, whereas about $30 million of the tax proceeds would be used to replace a horse racing purse supplement that had been provided by the Atlantic City casinos.

'This bill would create a bridge to self-sufficiency for the horse racing industry,' Lesniak said.

Lesniak and his law firm have pursued a federal lawsuit on the sportsbetting initiative in an attempt to overturn the previous law as unconstitutional. At the moment, the federal law allows sports betting, except horse racing and jai alai, but only in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. Single bets are permitted only in Nevada, the only place where you can wager on one National Football League game or another based on a point spread.

The suit was assessed the suit as pointless by Christie who has dismissed it, considering current federal law, while Lesniak countered Thursday that the state risks seeing the suit thrown out of federal court unless political support is demonstrated.

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