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The Push Is On For Online Gambling In NJ [POLL]

Bruno Vincent, Getty Images

A recent U.S. Justice Department opinion has opened the door for cash-strapped states to bring online gambling to their residents, as long as it does not involve sports betting. The recent DOJ ruling has one New Jersey lawmaker trying to fast-track his bill before the legislative session ends new legislators are sworn in on Tuesday.

New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak says, “I want my legislation to authorize Atlantic City’s casinos to conduct online gaming through both committees in the Senate and the Assembly on Thursday and have a floor vote on Monday and get it to the Governor’s desk.”

Governor Chris Christie’s spokesman would not respond to a request for comment on the bill, so it is unclear if Christie will sign the bill if it does pass both houses of the legislature. Lesniak remains hopeful the Governor will support it. He explains, “The Justice Department has given us the green light and alleviated one of the concerns of Governor Christie when he vetoed my legislation last year.”

The DOJ opinion not only gives New Jersey the green light for online gambling, it gives other states the same opportunity. Lesniak says, “It’s very critical for New Jersey to get there and get there first before Nevada. There are hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact billions of dollars at stake.”

Online poker boomed in the U.S. over the last decade, but a 2006 law made it illegal to run most online gambling businesses by forbidding financial institutions from processing transactions related to illegal online gambling.

“We (New Jersey) can be the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming,” believes Lesniak. “It’s the wave of the future.”

Lesniak says online gaming would also bring thousands of jobs to Atlantic City.

Fairleigh Dickinson University several times in recent years has polled New Jersey and the nation on the question of allowing internet betting, every time finding a majority of voters oppose it.

In February 2011 two-thirds of New Jersey voters (67%) said they opposed the idea, while 26% supported it. Opposition included even those who wager in office pools (56-38), as well as those who had been recently to a casino or a slots parlor (65-29).


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