Senator Raymond Lesniak had predicted that September 1st would be the starting date for online poker in New Jersey. Although Lesniak expects online poker to be running in New Jersey "sometime in the fall," the New Jersey Internet gambling bill isn't scheduled to go up for a vote until May 31st.
Lesniak made his prediction last month when he said the bill would pass in mid-April through both houses. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee passed the bill on April 3rd.
Lesniak reports that many of his colleagues are going on vacation in the coming month and that is the cause of the delay.
"We have to make sure we have all the Democratic votes there, so we have to schedule around people's vacations," Lesniak said. "Things like this happen. A year ago, the governor vetoed the first attempt. This time, it looks like we're going to reach the finish line. It's just taking longer than I hoped for."
Last year a similar bill was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the new version has been amended by addressing concerns by Christie that commercial establishments outside of Atlantic City could possibly become online gambling centers.
Since Christie's veto Nevada has passed online poker regulation and the new Justice Department opinion on the Wire Act has caused the reversal of many opinions on the legality of online poker. In January Christie changed his mind. Atlantic City casinos hosting online gambling websites had become appealing.
In Lesniak's vision, New Jersey would become the East Coast center of online poker; other states and possibly other nations, would all look towards New Jersey's gambling experience. New Jersey would serve as the regulating body when states decide to pool players and get involved in online poker.
Assuming the bill passes the Senate on May 31st, it will pass the State Assembly in June and be signed by the Governor shortly after according to Lesniak.
"I'm extremely confident," Lesniak said. "The casinos really need it. They want it. Really, it's the only way some of them will survive."