New Jersey Online Casino Vote Comes Monday With Sandy Relief In Mind

The New Jersey Legislature will take its second opportunity this Monday to pass an online gambling bill that would make the state the first in the nation to offer online casinos to their residents. A vote has been scheduled for Monday with a passage expected.

Senator Raymond Lesniak has been the driving force behind gambling expansion in New Jersey. Lesniak is the sponsor of the bill up for a vote next week, and believes the legislation will pass with ease. Lesniak and lawmakers approved a similar bill back in 2010, only to have it vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.

With the vote expected to go in favor of gambling expansion, Lesniak hopes to have the bill on Christie’s desk by the end of next week. There has been no indication yet as to whether or not the governor will sign the bill this time around, but several factors could sway his decision.

The most important factor is the recent storm that devastated much of the Jersey Shore. Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast, specifically leaving behind heavy damage in New York and New Jersey.

Christie has been out in front, leading the efforts to rebuild the Shore, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that would come from online gambling could go a long way towards the relief effort.

Despite the attraction of the revenue, Christie has some reservations about moving forward with online gambling. Chief among his complaints with the 2010 bill was the idea that it did not have some necessary safeguards in place to protect gamblers.

Lesniak and pro-gambling lawmakers have addressed that situation, although Lesniak does not have an indication whether they were enough to sway Christie.

The second factor that could ease Christie’s stance is the downward spiral that Atlantic City casinos have experienced since the economic recession. In the wake of the recession, AC casinos have experienced increased competition from neighboring states, and have fallen behind Pennsylvania to third in the nation in gaming revenue.

Nevada is currently on pace to open the first online casinos in the US, having already started the license application process. Lesniak believes that if Monday’s vote goes in favor of gambling expansion, that New Jersey could beat Nevada to the punch and become the first state to offer such gambling.

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