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New Jersey Governor Urged to Sign I-Gaming Bill

New Jersey Governor Urged to Sign I-Gaming Bill

Governor Chris Christie announces Dr. Janet Rosenzweig as nominee for the Commissioner of Children and Family Services at the statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010. (Governor Photos/Tim Larsen)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being urged by lawmakers to sign the online gambling bill that reached his desk on December 20 after being approved by both houses. The governor has until February 8 to sign or veto bill AS2578, which allows Atlantic City casinos to offer online games such as poker and blackjack through servers placed at their properties.

Christie has made no public statements on where he stands on the legislation.

Senate President Steven Sweeney, along with a group of four other Democrats, sent a formal letter to the governor asking him to sign the bill. The lawmakers, all from southern New Jersey, have cited the need to open up new revenue streams and to increase the casino revenue tax fund—which suffered a double-digit dip in October and November—as needed for the new legislation.

“Given the fiscal conditions facing our casinos, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and the recent movement toward internet gaming in states across the country, we cannot afford to wait any longer,” the letter stated.

The letter, authored by Sweeney as well as Senators James Whelan, Raymond Lesniak and Jeff Van Drew, cited Nevada and Delaware as possible competitors in the online gaming market.Gaming sites are expected go live in Nevada in the coming months. New Jersey’s neighboring state, Delaware, enacted legislation to allow for casino gambling over the internet in 2011, but has yet to fully organize a program. In addition, Illinois has authorized the sale of lottery tickets online to begin in 2013.

Christie vetoed a similar internet gambling bill in late 2011, citing state constitutional concerns and the possible proliferation of “internet cafés,” as well as a subsidy for racetracks he opposed. State lawmakers believe they have addressed the governor’s concerns in the current legislation.

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