New Jersey could be First US State to Offer Legalized Online Poker

February 15, 2013

New Jersey has suddenly been put on the map as it appears that online poker could be legalized in the state within a few months. Last week, Gov. Christie vetoed the internet poker bill, but stated that a signature will be provided if certain amendments are made to the piece of legislature. While the online gambling industry became exuberant as the news became public, the majority was shocked at this development.

Nevada is known as the casino capital of the world with the famous strip located in Las Vegas. It was always assumed that if online poker was ever legalized in the US, it would be in the state of Nevada first. However, Gov. Christies’ change of heart and his stance against online gambling have put New Jersey in a favorable position to offer online real money poker services to its residents.

Gov. Christie Outlines Amendments Himself; Lawmakers Scramble to Make Necessary Changes

Gov. Christie, until recently, was a staunch critic of legalizing online poker. In fact, he had also vetoed a bill on internet gambling earlier. When news broke that a second piece of legislature was being prepared in New Jersey, there were not many expectations riding on it. It is a well-known fact that most of the industry pundits did not even consider the possibility that the governor would have changed his stance.

In a move that sent shockwaves across the online gambling world, Gov. Christie opted for a conditional veto of the bill. This means that he was in favor of the bill provided that certain amendments are made to the legislature. In a magnanimous gesture, the governor himself has listed out a few amendments in a document with over 30 pages. All lawmakers have to do now is to inculcate those changes and present the newly amended bill to Gov. Christie.

As this was least expected out of Christie, lawmakers are, at present, scrambling to make the changes. Sources say that if the governor is appeased with the necessary modifications in the bill, it could be approved as early as the last week of March 2013. This means that New Jersey could in a position to offer internet real money poker services from April 2013.

Bill Sponsor Senator Lesniak Thrilled with Conditional Veto; Declares Christie’s Amendments as ‘Minor’ but Necessary’

As is expected, the sponsor of the bill, Senator Ray Lesniak is thrilled with the conditional veto by Gov. Christie. According to Lesniak, any new piece of legislature will require few changes and that is all that is needed in this one as well. Lesniak admits that the conditions stated by Christie are minor but absolutely necessary to the internet gambling bill.

The fact that Christie himself has outlined the changes makes it that much easier for lawmakers. Lesniak proffered praise on Gov. Christie and declared that the latter was very much in touch with what New Jersey required at the moment. This sentiment was echoed by several lawmakers as well.

Sluggish Economy Cited as Top Reason for Gov. Christie’s Change of Heart

As the news of the conditional veto became public, several theories were stated as the reason for the governor’s turnaround. It is said that the sluggish economy of the state is the top reason for the conditional veto. When Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey, a massive loss amounting to billions of dollars was incurred by the state.

As tourism is the main source of state revenue, the state of New Jersey has witnessed a crippling growth rate since the natural disaster. It is at this juncture that Governor Christie understood that any financial aid would be a boon for the state. Trade pundits estimate that if the online poker bill is approved, it would result in state revenue worth at least $500 million. Such a significant amount of money could be extremely beneficial to the state.

PokerStars’ First Land-Based Casino Acquisition to put it in Premium Position to Re-Enter US Online Gambling Market

PokerStars, which had ceased operations in the US, is now in a favorable position to re-enter the market. To offer internet real money poker services to New Jersey residents, online gaming companies will have to forge partnerships with land-based casinos in the state. Well ahead of its competitors is PokerStars which is already on its way to acquiring its first land-based casino in Atlantic City.

Although the terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, it is said that PokerStars will close the deal in the near future. Once it receives a license and the bill is approved, the leading online poker network could be the first to offer real money online poker services.

Gov. Christie Hopes to Revive NJ Economy with Job Opportunities

In a statement made to the press after the conditional veto, Gov. Christie announced that his action was in the best interest of the state. The amendments include stricter guidelines for poker sites to ensure fairness of games and personal and financial security of players. He also hopes that gambling addiction and underage gambling will be heavily restricted with the amendments.

Governor Christie declared that if the bill includes the necessary changes, then it may be approved and will pave the way to economic development for the state. Christie hopes that the increase in job opportunities and state revenue will revive the economy. When asked about the change of heart, the governor replied that it was a sensitive matter and a decision that could affect the lives of NJ residents and its economy should not be taken in haste but after careful consideration.