By a vote of 7-0 (with four abstentions), New Jersey’s Assembly Budget Committee has approved legislation that would permit Atlantic City casinos to offer online poker and casino games to state residents. Having already passed muster in the Senate, the bill now passes to the lower house for a full vote.
As written, New Jersey’s intrastate online gaming plan would boost local employment by requiring the computers, servers, monitoring rooms and hubs to be located in a restricted area of one of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos, or a ‘secure facility’ within city limits but inaccessible to the public. Internet bets would be subject to a 15% tax on gross gaming revenues, some of which will be diverted to help prop up the state’s ailing horseracing industry.
Assuming the legislation passes the full Assembly vote, all that would be required for New Jersey to officially get into the online gaming game would be Gov. Chris Christie’s signature. And while Christie isn’t saying his signature’s an automatic, he urged the Legislature to “give Atlantic City a Christmas present’ by pushing back their scheduled vacation until the work is done. “We could resolve all these issues by Monday … Put in just one more day of work.”
But Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver clearly has some Grinch in her, as she’s adamant that the Assembly will not be in their seats come Monday. However, she did say that the Assembly “plans to continue working on this issue into early January to be sure we get it right.” So it appears that unless Harry ‘jinx’ Reid suddenly decides to stop by and lend his ‘support’ to New Jersey’s efforts, Garden State residents will be able to legally gamble from home in 2011. And here we thought the world wasn’t supposed to end until 2012…