By Nathan Carroll, Rakeback.com Poker News
Over the past few months, we've covered the progress of state legislation proposed in New Jersey that may lead to the first officially legalized and regulated online poker market in the US. The bill calls for the creation of an online poker network exclusively for residents of New Jersey. The income from licensed gaming operators in the state would then be taxed, significantly adding to New Jersey's government revenue.
The bill first turned up in early November when it earned the greenlight from a key legislative committee, then again later that month after passing in the State Senate by a vote of 29 to 5. After an extended holiday break, the bill then moved on the State Assembly, which it breezed through recently with a vote of 63 "aye's" and 11 "nay's."
Having locked up passing grades from the state's elected representatives, the bill now heads to the governor's office to await a signature from the state's top boss, Chris Christie. With such a strong mandate from both chambers of the state legislator--not to mention the ailing New Jersey economy that so desperately needs a boost--it's very unlikely that Christie will opt not to sign. And even if for some reason he does decide to veto the bill, it can be overturned by a two-thirds majority.
Like most online poker bills on the discussion table in the U.S. at this point, the NJ bill would lock out industry heavyweights like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. In their place, it would give licenses to brick and mortar casinos that currently operate within the state, among them the Borgata and the Tropicana. It's anyone's guess as to how well the Atlantic City casinos will tackle the challenge of building an online poker market from scratch, but given that the bill is set to go into effect immediately once Christie affixes his John Hancock, you can bet they've already got their best men on the job.
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