The Making of the Online Gambling Bill in New Jersey

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gamblingIn February of the year 2013, the governor for New Jersey signed a bill that had been passed by the two houses of legislature. By signing it, Governor Chris Christie converted the new online gambling bill to law. This bill brings many changes to the online gambling field in New Jersey. In this article, we will have a look at some of the milestones and stumbling blocks that this bill had to go through before it was signed.

This bill can be traced way back in the beginning of the year 2010 when a Senator by the name Ray Lesniak came up with a bill thatenabled Atlantic City casinos to give their services online to players within the state and even from outside the country. After 6 months of consideration, the state senate committee in charge of historic preservation, wagering and tourism passed this bill. This was in the month of June 2010.Immediately after being passed by the committee, public associations started airing disagreements. One of these associations is the Casino Association of New Jersey which insisted that online gambling should not be regulated at the state level and preferred that it’s done at the federal level. Another group that was against this is the racetracks,who wanted permission to have slot machines at their venues. According to Senator Lesniak, all these groups were looking for an avenue to benefit more from the bill hence it was put on hold to allow time for discussing all these issues so that a consensuscould be reached.

Later on, the bill was cleared by the senate committee that was in charge of appropriations and the budget. At this point, Senator Lesniak pointed out that New Jersey’s online gamblers were giving business to international gaming operators that were located in other countries. He went ahead and mentioned the jobs created by these gaming operators. Legalizing online gambling in New Jersey would bring these revenues and jobs back to the state.Nonetheless, there was need to ensure that there is some regulation to ensure that nobody gets abused.The New Jersey assembly cleared the bill in January of the year 2011 hence it only required Governor Christie’s signature for it to become law. In March, Governor Christie vetoed this bill citing lacunas in the bill. One of the concerns that he raised was the fact that the operators at Atlantic City didn’t meet the state’s constitutional requirement. Lesniak responded by pledging to work with the office of the governor to ensure that regulated online gambling is on its feet as soon as possible.

After the first bill was vetoed, Senator Lesniak came up with another one that addressed the concerns that were raised by the Governor. This bill took a significantly longer period of time to pass the senate and house committees. When it was finally approved in May 2012, it did not have sufficient support hence the voting in the House and the Senate was deferred. There was also need for harmonization since the version in the House differed slightly from that in the senate.