January 10, 2011 stands to be an historic day for US online gambling supporters as well as anyone who truly supports a free market economy. That is the day the New Jersey legislature passed a bill, The Intra-State Internet Gambling bill, meant to approve and license regulated online casino gambling. The only thing now standing in the way of full passage is whether or not Governor Chris Christie signs the bill into law. Although the final stage lies with the Governor, ultimately the New Jersey legislature can veto and overturn his decision making legalized online gambling a reality in New Jersey. Considering the bill passed with a solid, bi-partisan majority of 34 – 2, it looks very promising for online gambling fans as well as anyone who supports a true free market economy. Governor Christie has 45 days from the day of the signing to make his decision.
Clearly the majority of the New Jersey lawmakers understand the value in legalizing and regulating the online gambling industry in their jurisdiction. First and foremost, it will give them at least slight control over what many think (albeit incorrectly) is a Wild West mentality with online gambling sites. Second, and more importantly, it will give New Jersey a piece of the pie by taxing what is always a very lucrative business, equaling an anticipated $55 million in yearly revenue for the State. Furthermore, they anticipate at least 500 new high tech jobs being created as a result of these regulations, infusing a hard hit economy with much needed jobs. It will also give existing local businesses, in this case land based casinos, an edge by giving them the go ahead to create to an online version of their casinos. All in all, there are no real practical downsides to consider. So what is holding up Governor Christie’s decision? He doesn’t want to be the first US governor to sign on to what is could be a very controversial bill, despite the mainstream acceptance of online gambling. Maybe he is afraid to rock the boat and perhaps jeopardize his political future.
It has been a very rocky road, to say the least, for the online casino industry within the US market over the past 8 years. Today, with this potentially landmark bill in New Jersey, it looks like the tide has turned and sanity and clarity are beginning to return. If New Jersey officially passes their bill regulating online gambling, it could easily set the tone for further States, including California and other forward looking State legislatures, to regulate and tax the industry within their State lines.