NJ online gambling bill voting postponed until fall

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Voting on New Jersey's online gambling bill (AB2578) has been postponed until the fall. SBR interviewed NJ State Senator Raymond Lesniak last week to discuss his expectations for sports betting and online gambling within the Garden State. The Senator did concede that there could be a delay based on Governor Chris Christie's agenda.

During his interview with SBR, Senator Lesniak was cautiously optimistic about NJ Governor Chris Christie's recent media headlines on sports betting. Lesniak speculated that the Governor may be inclined to wait until the Republican National Convention takes place before moving forward with gambling related bills. Gov. Christie's national political aspirations have been a thorn in the side of Sen. Lesniak, who had his gambling bill vetoed in 2011.

"Because of Gov. Christie's ambivalence on it and him sending messages that he doesn't want it to go through until the fall, we're having trouble getting enough Democratic votes to pass it because of opposition from the racing industry," Lesniak stated in a telephone interview with PokerNews.

SBR readers have expressed confusion on the subject of the proposed online gambling legalization outlined in AB2578. The legislation does not allow intrastate online wagering in the context many expect. The legislation only authorizes licensed Atlantic City casinos to offer internet gambling within the confines on their facility; in addition, only select, conventional casino games, referred to as "Authorized Gambling Game" in the legislation, will be permitted.

Sports wagering will not be offered via the internet, though sportsbook wagering is in the crosshairs of New Jersey as it attempts to amend the federal law to exclude itself from the prohibition on professional and amateur sports gambling. Under The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), sports betting is outlawed nationwide with the exception of Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. Gov. Christie boldly declared that NJ would proceed onward with plans to install sportsbooks in Atlantic City casinos at a news conference on May 24th:

“If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us. We want to work with the casinos and horse racing industry to get it implemented. Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes. But I have every confidence we're going to be successful." Gov. Christie stated.

SBR will update this report in the event that there are further developments.

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