After delaying through the maximum 45 day limit to act, on February 7 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie issued a “conditional veto” for the internet gaming bill that was passed by the State Assembly and Senate in late December. The Governor returned the bill to the congress noting specific recommendations and hinted that he would be willing to sign the bill into law if those recommendations were included in a final bill.
Today both the N.J. House and Senate approved the revised bill with votes of 68-5 and 35-1 respectively and Governor Christie signed the bill into law just moments later.
Amended Bill A 2578 allows for internet gaming to take place in New Jersey. As with the original bill, the servers for the operators must be physically within Atlantic City brick and mortar casinos. The Governor’s recommended changes to the original bill, now adopted, include:
Prohibition of casino related employment for state employees or state legislators will now also extend to internet gaming licensees and their promoters or affiliates.
A tax rate increase from 10% to 15% (compared to the current 8% for brick and mortar casinos).
An enhanced level of funding for compulsive gambling treatment programs, to be funded by the license holders.
State elected officials must disclose their past and present representation of entities seeking or holding internet gaming licenses.
The law includes a 10 year sunset clause to allow future leaders to review and revise as needed.
Players to the sites will not need to be New Jersey full time residents, but can only take part initially in internet gaming while physically within New Jersey borders. Unlike other states, the bill allows, not only the possibility for internet poker, but likely for all casino games currently regulated in Atlantic City casinos and any that are deemed to be “suitable for casino use”.
In addition, the law specifically states that wagers may be accepted from persons not physically present in New Jersey if the Division of Gaming Enforcement in New Jersey determines that accepting those wagers does not violate any federal law or law of the jurisdiction, including any foreign nation where the player might be located, or that such wagers are conducted pursuant to a reciprocal agreement between New Jersey and the other jurisdiction that is not inconsistent with any federal laws.
Diamond Flush Poker will continue to report as the regulations for operation are finalized and applications for licenses to operate move ahead.
UPDATE: Governor Christie has now issued the following press release:
I am pleased to say that today I signed New Jersey’s Internet Gaming Bill, opening the way for new opportunity to bolster our efforts to continue the revival of Atlantic City, its casinos and entertainment offerings. This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly. 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. I want to thank the sponsors for working quickly to include my recommendations to improve the bill.”