Sunday July 31,2011 : Time has run out for a November ballot
Recent hints that New Jersey state senator Ray Lesniak is planning another run at legalising online gambling have again raised the question of (state) constitutional legality.
Our readers will recall that Lesniak successfully guided an intrastate online gambling legalization attempt to overwhelming approval in the New Jersey legislature, only to see it vetoed by the governor, Chris Christie, who based his decision on the fact that such a measure essentially extended legal gambling to the entire state…and that would violate the state constitution.
The state’s constitution currently permits legal casino gambling only in Atlantic City.
He was supported in this judgement by the land operators’ trade body, the Casino Association of New Jersey, making its call regardless of the contents of Lesniak's bill, which required that the servers running any online gaming be housed in Atlantic City and be operated by gaming companies already licensed in New Jersey.
The CANJ joined Christie in the view that gambling would nevertheless be expanded to points outside Atlantic City via the reach of the internet.
To get a legalization bill through, the first step in New Jersey – either for an intrastate system or if the federal government passes such a bill – is to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November, and there is now insufficient time to do that for 2011, the Press of Atlantic City asserted at the weekend.
The publication concluded that online gaming is already huge, its growth is inevitable – and it is time for the federal government to get out of the way and allow existing, licensed gaming companies to offer online play in states that agree to allow it…but the constitutional amendment remains a critical requirement.