Online poker: New Jersey ponders new bill

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In early December, New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak submitted an amended revision of the online gambling bill that he sponsored in 2012. The bill had gained momentum in March and was expected to pass then, but fell short of the required votes because of some lobbying against the bill from the casino industry, the horse-racing community, and Gov. Chris Christie. The objections were primarily around revenue and tax distributions. In May, it looked like it might get approved again, but the negotiations once again failed and the bill never went to the assembly for a vote.

Now, with the new amendments to the bill,Lesniak said there’s no opposition and all parties are on board. The main reason for this is one of the amendments restores a $60 million supplement to the horse-racing industry, which was the big objection earlier in the year.

The casino industry in New Jersey is hurting, especially since Hurricane Sandy, and this would bring in much-needed revenue. The senator also said if New Jersey approves the legislation, then his state would provide some competition to the Nevada online gaming law that passed last year. Nevada is set to crank up its online gaming sites in the next few months with many licensed operators.

Lesniak said if New Jersey doesn’t pass this bill then the state would be lagging behind and leave Nevada to monopolize the market.

POKERSTARS: When PokerStars came to an agreement with DOJ, part of the agreement was it would be able to re-enter the U.S. market when the laws allowed. Well, in New Jersey, the Atlantic Club Casino is struggling and PokerStars reportedly is interested in purchasing the property for about $50 million, which would allow Stars to own a U.S.-based brick-and-mortar casino to start repairing its U.S. customer relationships that were damaged when they were forced out of the market on Black Friday in 2011.

This also is a timely move on Stars’ part, seeing how the online gaming bill was being pushed through the legislature at press time. This might be the start of a new trend of online gaming sites entering the physical realm, giving them access to a new customer base.

NEVADA ONLINE: The Nevada Gaming Commission keeps getting new applications for online sites to be approved. Caesars just applied for a World Series of Poker-branded online site.

This would allow Caesars to use the WSOP brand with online tournaments, providing Nevada residents full-time access to WSOP tournaments in the virtual world. Zynga Corp., the California based online gaming site mostly known for its games on Facebook, has applied for a license to have online gaming in Nevada. This would allow them to have real-money games for residents of the state.

Zynga has initiated the process of providing real-money online games in the United Kingdom, by partnering with bwin.party. It is looking to kick off its U.K. venture early this year. Executives at Zynga expect to have their Nevada licenses approved within 12-18 months.

— Email Joel Gatlin at editor@anteupmagazine.com.