The New Jersey state Legislature today cleared the way for legalizing online gaming in New Jersey.
Both the state Senate and the Assembly approved Gov. Chris Christie’s recommended changes to an online gambling bill he conditionally vetoed this month.
The Republican governor said last week there would “be no reason for me not to sign it,” and said he may do so as early as today.
The legislation (A2578), which requires that the online bets be placed only in New Jersey, received bipartisan approval in both houses. It passed the Assembly today by a vote of 68-5, with one legislator abstaining. The Senate passed the bill 35-1.
It would limit licenses to casinos in Atlantic City and require those companies to keep most of the equipment to run the operations on site.
Christie vetoed an earlier version of the bill, saying at the time that “any effort to expand casino gambling outside of Atlantic City must be supported by referendum.”
But, earlier this month, he changed his mind and said he approved of online gambling as long the economic benefits were carefully weighed “against the risks of addiction, corruption, and improper influence.”
The governor recommended extending existing prohibitions on casino-related employment for state workers and others with conflicts of interest, increasing funds for programs that treat compulsive gambling, and requiring elected state officials to disclose current and former connections to companies seeking online gaming licenses.
He also called for collecting more taxes than legislators had proposed — 15 percent of internet gambling revenues, as opposed to the 10 percent the original bill would have collected. Casinos currently pay an 8 percent gross tax on casino revenue, which would not apply to internet wagering under the legislation.
His biggest change: The law would expire after a decade, giving lawmakers a chance to review its merits.