by Lou on December 14, 2010

New Jersey’s state Senate and Assembly approved a bundled packet of bills that would establish the nation’s first intrastate online wagering system and allow Garden State residents the opportunity to play poker in front of computer terminals in the comfort of their own homes.

The bill also promises to create new jobs, breathe new life into the state’s depressed casinos and racetracks, and allow sports betting in the state’s casinos.  Each of the bills in this packet must now go before Governor Chris Christie for his expected approval.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said state Senator Raymond Lesniak, a driving force behind this legislation. Lesniak also said that the bill would generate more than $1 billion in revenues for the state’s casinos, $120 million for the treasury, and revive tourism in Atlantic City—an area that’s been hard hit by the recession as well as increased competition from newly-opened casinos in neighboring Delaware and Pennsylvania. Nearly 550 new jobs are likely to be created, along with an additional 1,039 jobs in firms that supply products and services to online gaming companies.

According to gaming industry experts, New Jersey’s legislation could impact the national debate over online gambling.  David Schwartz, director for gaming research at UNLV said, “If this passes it could be a tipping point for online gambling.”

While the sand is fast running out of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hourglass in his quest to attach online poker legalization to another bill prior to the end of the current congressional session, it appears that New Jersey is poised to become the nation’s first state to offer intrastate online poker to its citizens.

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