Back in March, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have allowed in-state online gambling. In recent months, the state legislature have been pushing to have sport betting legalized in the state, a move that even the Governor supports. However, if anyone thinks that sports betting may be a precursor to allowing online poker, they are going to have to wait.
New Jersey lawmakers have now removed the provision in the sports betting law that would allow players to place bets from their computers or smartphones. These changes were made so that Gov. Christie would not veto the bill much the same way that he did the online gaming bill.
A vote still needs to be held on the bill, and that vote is scheduled for January 9th. If passed by the State Senate, it would move on to Gov. Christie for his signature. If this bill is passed, it still has to sue in Federal court in order to get an exemption from the nationwide sports betting ban. At present, only four states legally offer sports betting. If they receive their exemption, New Jersey could offer sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and at horse tracks throughout New Jersey.
State Senator Ray Lesniak had tried to sue in the past for New Jersey’s right to offer sports betting but that suit was dismissed. This time, Lesniak thinks that a suit may be successful. This time, he would have the backing of the state legislature, the Governor, and a nonbinding referendum passed by voters 2-1 last month. None of these he had last time, and this is assuming the law passes.
Unfortunately, this bill will do nothing to help the cause of online gaming in the state. Gov. Christie gave reservations and said that he would only consider it again after the issue was proposed to the people for referendum. No progress has been made in that avenue.
Perhaps if sports betting is legalized in the state, the process could be started once again for online gaming and maybe try and find a way to introduce it in conjunction with sports betting. With concerns over safety and keeping it local to New Jersey residents, it may be a good route to try and have only existing New Jersey casinos work towards a solution.
In addition, with legalization of online poker coming in Nevada next year, a model could be presented and potentially mimicked for future consideration. For now, residents of New Jersey will have to settle with traveling either to Atlantic City or out of state to gamble online legally.