ONLINE POKER: New Jersey becomes third US state to pass legislation

It’s the home of The Sopranos, Bruce Springsteen, Jersey Shore (pictured) and Atlantic City – New Jersey can now also claim to being the third jurisdiction in the United States to legalise intrastate online poker along with Nevada and Delaware.

With amazing swiftness, the New Jersey State Legislature and the State Senate passed the revised online poker bill with Governor Chris Christie’s recommendations put forth in his conditional veto of the original bill.

Soon after the bill passed both bodies Governor Chris Christie signed the bill, making New Jersey the third (and by far the largest) state to legalise online poker.

The original bill was passed late in 2012 and sat on the Governor’s desk for a couple months before he issued the conditional veto just prior to the deadline for signing the bill.

The veto sent the bill back to the New Jersey legislature where they could choose to act on the governor’s recommendations or simply scrap the bill.

The legislator at the forefront of the push for legalised online gaming in New Jersey, Raymond Lesniak, made a statement at the time of the time of the conditional veto saying the recommendations would not be a problem, and in the end they proved not to be.

Though the bill does not explicitly mention poker as an authorised game, the law does empower the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to authorise games it finds “suitable for casino use” and “compatible with the public interest.”

The race is now on for the first state to launch regulated online poker. Although Nevada made online poker legal in the state back in 2011, and many licenses have been awarded to service providers and operators, no site has gone live yet and earlier this month six month extensions were granted to operators still testing software.

Coincidentally, Rational Group, parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, has entered into an agreement to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City from Resorts International Holdings.

PokerStars is still awaiting approval of its gaming license application from the New Jersey authorities that regulate Atlantic City’s $3 billion gambling industry although the company will face tough scrutiny due to its tainted history, which relates back to Black Friday, April 15, 2011.

On that day, known in the industry as Black Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice seized PokerStars and two other foreign-based online poker sites, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, and shut down their domains.

The Department of Justice also indicted 11 men in connection with the three sites, charging them with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offences. As a result, it is expected that states with legalised online gaming may only allow U.S. companies to obtain licences.

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