Gambling Bill In New Jersey on Hold Until Fall

Online bingo players and casino gamblers in New Jersey suffered a recent setback after news reports indicated that no action will be taken on State Senator Ray Lesniak’s online gambling bill until fall. At an east coast gaming conference earlier in the Year Lesniak was optimistic that his bill would clear the state’s assembly and New Jersey would be the ‘silicon valley’ on internet gambling in the United States. Lesniak’s bill was supposed to be put to a vote on May 31st but because of a lack of political support the bill may have to wait until the fall legislative session before any action is taken.

Lesniak said there was a lack of support from both Republicans and Democrats. Lesniak said there were not enough Democratic votes because of fierce opposition by the horse racing industry. Lesniak blamed the lack of Republican support on Governor Christie’s ambivalent attitude towards the bill. Lesniak said he had tailored his current bill to address objections of Christie who vetoed a similar bill last year. Governor Christie has indicated that he does not want the bill to pass until the fall legislative session.

Some political observers say that Christie is under pressure from more important party issues during a major election year. Many Republicans do not want to be seen as sympathetic to gambling. Many big GOP donors are solidly against any form of gambling and the GOP must also pander to its religious conservative base. There are also rumors that Christie will be playing a national role if Romney wins the presidential election in November. Most believe that Christie is willing to abandon online gaming in New Jersey for larger interests. Lesniak told reporters “We’re going to work on it until the end of June and see if we can get it done by getting the governor’s support or getting the Democratic votes.” If the vote does not take place by the end of June it will automatically shift to the fall legislative session.

There was good news for Atlantic City casinos for a change. The New Jersey Senate approved a bill that will allow on premises mobile gaming at Atlantic City casinos. The bill was introduced by state Senator Jim Whelan who said that New Jersey need to change with the times to remain competitive in the gambling industry. There are some conditions attached to Whelan’s bill. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement will have to make sure that mobile devices will not work outside of casino property. Players will have to establish a mobile betting account and all bets must be paid in the casino. More regulations are in store but currently the discussion date has not been decided.

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