Fingers were crossed for the passage of New Jersey’s much anticipated online gaming regulatory bill that was sent to Governor Chris Christie’s desk for approval. Unfortunately, Christie vetoed the bill, sending it back to the legislature with a mandate for a public referendum. Christie believes that if the people of New Jersey really want online gaming, they’ll vote accordingly. Christie’s “bet” is the bill will get voted down, citing a 67% unfavorable opinion of online gaming among New Jersey citizens.

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What does this mean for online casinos, sportsbooks, horse racebooks, and poker rooms? Essentially it is yet another snag along the way towards full legalization of online gaming in the USA. Many believe that if New Jersey approves its groundbreaking bill, other states will follow suit. It’s no secret that Nevada is aching for some sort of additional state revenue. The casinos in Reno and Las Vegas are chomping at the bit to launch their own online casinos; and many already offer “free play” online casino games to whet the appetites of serious gamblers.

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If states began to pass pro online gaming legislation, legal issues with the Federal UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act) of 2005 would almost certainly crop up. Many family-friendly Republican lawmakers already have national online gaming bills in their cross hairs, lying in wait for the chance to shoot them down. On the other side are Democrats like Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts and former chair of the House Banking Committee, who are pushing hard to get the UIGEA overthrown. Frank and fellow supporters cite the creation of high technology jobs and additional tax revenue as reasons for legalizing online casinos in the USA.

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The entrance of corporate online gaming companies (Caesar’s Entertainment, MGM, Wynn Resorts) would ultimately lay waste to the offshore casino business, currently satisfied with the status quo, despite continued problems processing payments from USA based customers. Small offshore gaming operations could never compete with multi-billion dollar casino conglomerates, and their demise would happen almost overnight. Further, USA players would eventually abandon offshore gaming websites anyway, favoring well known casino brands with fast payment processing, larger jackpots, and quick payouts. Think about it: would you feel more comfortable playing at XYZ Online Casino based in Panama, or Wynn Online in Las Vegas? The answer is obvious.

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To be sure, there is still much work to be done: online gambling reamins illegal in the USA, even if multiple states have new legislation in the works. Moreover, it is very low on the National list of priorities facing the Republican controlled Congress. Lawmakers are eager to cut spending and start battling President Obama on the recent Health Care Act, dubbed “Obama Care”. Then, there are the two wars being waged Iraq and Afghanistan. The continued flow of billions of tax dollars to these conflicts concerns many legislators. As a result, it’s not surprising that legalizing online poker or casino games would be low on their list.

Until then…
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