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New Jersey Passes Online Gambling Legislation … Finally

New Jersey has finally passed online gambling legislation, something that industry analysts and online gambling watchdogs thought would have happened by now. Las Vegas was the first state in the United States to legalize online gambling, in the form of poker, since the United States Department of Justice flip-flopped their age-old attitude. Calling online lotteries and gambling, with the exception of sports gambling, an activity that they no longer saw as illegal, the DOJ said that each individual US state can decide their own online gambling destiny.

Almost immediately Las Vegas became the first to legalize online poker, and it looked like New Jersey would quickly become the second state to do so. However, Delaware passed an online gambling package before the Garden State, primarily because Governor Chris Christie repeatedly turned down Internet gambling proposals. This seemed to be an odd development, since Christie has long been a vocal proponent of online gambling as a revenue source. However, when Christie passed this most recent Internet gambling package Tuesday on the same day he released his state budget, he decided to clear the air on his refusal to pass previous legislation packages.

He stated that while he believes online gambling is needed for Atlantic City to return to its former glory as the leading casino provider on the East Coast, he refused to "rubber stamp" his approval of Internet gambling legislation. Little more than one week ago, he once again turned down a proposed Bill which would have legalized Internet gambling, asking only for slight changes in the bill's structure. Those changes were made, and the revised legislation was quickly passed into law.

Atlantic City casino revenue from online winnings will be taxed at 15%, up from the previously proposed 10%, and online gambling accounts will require traveling to a physical Atlantic City casino. Once a New Jersey resident, or traveler located within New Jersey state boundaries, opens up an online account at a brick-and-mortar casino, they are then eligible to win player rewards and complementary (comp) bonus packages which must be redeemed at a New Jersey casino. This is no small piece of legislation, and is predicted to deliver the largest legalized gambling expansion in New Jersey history since the first brick-and-mortar casino opened its doors in Atlantic City in 1978.

Christie was quoted as saying that "this was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly." He also went on to state that he believes finally the "proper regulatory framework and safeguards" are now in place to provide a safe and reliable online gambling experience for the residents of and travelers to New Jersey. The comps referred to above would be similar to those which originated in Las Vegas, Nevada. Players could earn free hotel rooms, free live entertainment show tickets and free meals which would be accrued through their online play. While these bonuses are a bit different than those offered at legal offshore New Jersey online casinos, they are pretty enticing in their own right.