Posted 1/11/11 : Assembly approves Lesniak bill with a significant majority vote
It's over to New Jersey governor Chris Christie for his imprimatur now as the state of New Jersey leads the intrastate charge to legalise online gambling.
After earlier successes at committee stages and in the state Senate, the bill driven by Senator Ray Lesniak passed easily on an Assembly vote of 63 for and only 11 against on Monday January 10th.
Christie has in the past expressed reservations about online gambling, but he is now faced with a popular bill approved with impressive majorities in both Senate and Assembly, and has 45 days to consider his options.
The governor's signature on the legalization could make New Jersey the first US state to exercise its prerogative under states rights to legalise most forms of online gambling, including: "…poker, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, big six wheel, slot machines, minibaccarat, red dog, pai gow, and sic bo; any variations or composites of such games, provided that such variations or composites, and any above listed game or variation or composite of such game to be offered through Internet wagering."
Lesniak's bill provides for stringent licensing requirements and locally-focused regulation and operator presence.
The bill was one of several gambling-related proposals that were considered by the Assembly in a session that ran from early afternoon until 8 at night local time.
New Jersey.com reported that one of the bills provides $30 million over three years in support of the state's struggling horseracing industry. After amendments designed to obviate concerns raised by the governor, the bill passed 71-5. The state Senate worked late into the night to follow up on the House decision with a positive vote of its own.
The horse racing subsidy was included in a bill that creates an Atlantic City Casino District with state oversight, and phases out the annual purse subsidy $30 million in 2010 – to $15 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012, and $5 million in 2013.
Other legislative proposals passed by the Assembly Monday included a bill that creates a Casino Gaming Study Commission to investigate the economic implications of Meadowlands launching a land casino; a proposal to reduce regulations in order to make Atlantic City a more attractive proposition for casino operators; and a bill designed to encourage the continued breeding of racehorses in the state.