|Police say masked
man apparently carrying imitation pistol when he was disarmed and pinned down
by Ladbrokes customers
Chris Christie signed a bill on 26th Feb making New Jersey the third state in
the nation to legalize Internet gambling, hours after the Legislature passed a
revised bill that made the changes he wanted..
The changes included
setting a 10-year trial period for online betting, and raising the taxes on the
Atlantic City casinos online winnings to 15 percent, from 10 percent.
Gamblers would have to set up online accounts with a particular casino.
The bill is expected to bring
about the largest expansion of legalized gambling in New Jersey since the first
casino began operating in Atlantic City in 1978. Delaware and Nevada have
passed laws legalizing Internet betting, which also occurs offshore, untaxed
and unregulated. .
a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly, Mr. Christie
said. But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I
insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a
responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive
while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole.
The idea is to help the struggling casinos by attracting new gamblers
who are not now visiting the casinos. Comps, like free hotel rooms,
show tickets and meals, would be accrued from online play, but would have to be
redeemed in person at a casino. The bill will not take effect until the State
Division of Gaming Enforcement sets a start date, from three to nine months
Until a year ago, the federal government considered such
gambling illegal and targeted online-gambling companies and their partners with
criminal and civil lawsuits. But in 2011 the Justice Department reversed
itself, prompting many states to consider legalizing online gambling and
lottery directors to start selling tickets online.
That process has
picked up steam in statehouses and executives' offices this year since an
effort stalled in Congress to pass a law allowing online poker. The first
regulated online-gambling networks in the U.S. are expected to be up and
running this year in Nevada and Delaware.
Their road is likely to be a
bumpy one, given the controversial nature of gambling and the variety of
competing interests involved, say people involved in the process. In recent
years states including California, Iowa and Mississippi have considered
legalizing online poker or other forms of online gambling, but those efforts
have been stalled by critics' concerns about an uptick in gambling addiction or
other social ills, as well as infighting among gambling interests.
Though industry forecasts vary widely, H2 Gambling Capital, which
tracks online-gambling markets, estimates that online gambling in New Jersey
will generate revenue of $410 million the first year, growing to $590 million
after a few years. Of the total, the state of New Jersey will collect a 15%
The bigger opportunity could come from interstate gambling if more
states legalize online wagering, but a variety of business and legal
complications make that prospect hazy.
In Nevada, where companies are
about to set up in-state poker networks, Gov. Brian Sandoval last week rushed
to sign a bill allowing the state to enter agreements with other states to pool
Such agreements, modeled after lottery compacts that
create pooled drawings for games such as Powerball or Mega Millions, could be
particularly useful for smaller states operating online poker by giving them
access to more players.
Many other uncertainties remain as a regulated
industry takes shape, such as how much legal online-gambling might cut into the
conventional casino business, whether there will be a significant spike in
gambling addiction as Internet gambling becomes more accessible, and whether
geo-location, age-verification, antimoney-laundering and other monitoring
systems will prove adequate.
Another key question will be whether
companies with the most expertise and, in many cases, brand recognition in
online gambling will participate in the newly legal market.
controversial company is PokerStars, which recently disclosed that it had
agreed to purchase a casino in Atlantic City and had applied for a gambling
license with New Jersey regulators. The company took poker bets in the U.S.
until 2011 and built up an enormous following of eager poker players,
contending that its actions were legal.