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(TRENTON) - With the deadline for enactment looming, Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic) on Monday called upon Governor Christie to sign off on legislation (A-2578) to legalize Internet gaming from computer servers based at Atlantic City casinos.
Giblin noted that Atlantic City is at a crossroads because of gaming competition in New York, Pennsylvania and regional states. Gaming revenue has declined by over 40 percent in recent years, bringing with it a reduction in jobs and wages for casino employees, as well as a reduction in tax revenue that helps fund many critical state programs, especially senior citizen-related services. Additionally, Pennsylvania recently surpassed New Jersey to become the number two gambling market in the country behind Nevada.
"The Internet Gaming Bill will reverse this trend and create new revenue desperately needed for inclusion in our state budget," said Giblin. "The online gaming market in New Jersey could grow to be $1.5 billion over the next five years while potentially providing up to $150 million in new annual tax revenue. Moreover, every New Jersey casino will benefit from this legislation."
Giblin noted that Governor Chris Christie faces a February 7 deadline for approval of this legislation.
Giblin said a feature of the bill also allows for interstate compacts and taking play from players in other countries, making it a very attractive market for operators and increasing taxable revenue. The main component of the bill requires improvements to the regions' technology and infrastructure to build and maintain the equipment and expertise required to provide service for millions of patrons.
"Atlantic City can become the hub of online gaming in the United States and gain an edge over Nevada and Pennsylvania. But if New Jersey doesn't act quickly, Nevada will reap the benefits of first-move status. I hope the Governor will review this legislation and give it his approval. The stakes are so high to revive New Jersey's casino industry, develop new jobs, and help state revenues still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
"This legislation meets the constitutional litmus test because computers and related equipment will be located in Atlantic City. The addition of online gaming would be another incentive to attract more patrons to the city," added Giblin.
Governor Chris Christie has made the revival of Atlantic City a high priority during his administration. The Governor's approval of Internet gaming will be the "shot in the arm" that can help the casino industry rebound.
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