New Jersey lawmakers plan to move quickly on Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto and will vote on the proposed amendments on Feb. 26.
Sen. Ray Lesniak, the bill’s sponsor, is anxious to make the necessary changes and get it back to Christie for his signature. The online gambling bill is seen by Lesniak and many others as the legislation that can save Atlantic City’s floundering casino industry. A tax increase to 15% on gaming operators that will help fund addictive gambling programs and a 10-year time limit on the statute will reportedly be approved by state lawmakers.
Once Christie signs the bill, which is likely to occur sometime in March, the Garden State can move forward with the licensing process. Lesniak anticipates online gambling sites to be up and running by this fall.
Washington State Getting Softer on Online Gambling
Currently, online gambling in the state of Washington is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in the slammer and up to $10,000 in fines.
A Washington State lawmaker is attempting to reduce that harsh penalty, knocking it down from a felony to a mere civil infraction where the maximum penalty would be a $50 fine. Rep. Paul Harris’ proposal is aimed at allowing recreational online gamblers to partake in casual Internet wagering.
Other than Utah, which forbids all modes of gambling whether online or live, Washington is considered the second strictest state in opposing online gambling. Washington legislators enacted the tough online gambling statute in 2006 to protect the state’s tribal casinos. In 2010, both Full Tilt and PokerStars disallowed real-money play from those within the borders of Washington State.
ACEP Launches Free-Play Site
While Nevada works feverishly to be the first state to offer online poker, one of its online poker licensees launched a free-play online poker site.
American Casino & Entertainment Properties (ACEP), who was awarded an interactive gaming license last September, has gone online with acePLAYpoker.com. The free-play site is available to players in any jurisdiction with access to the Internet. ACEP owns the Stratosphere Casino in Las Vegas and its free-play promotions include show tickets and thrill rides from the casino’s tower.
The round-the-clock free-play site is powered by Ongame software. Ongame also had recently been selected by Bally Technologies as its preferred online poker platform partner. Bally Technologies made history as the first company to receive an interactive online poker license from Nevada gaming officials last June.
ACEP expects to transition acePLAYpoker.com from free-play to real-money play sometime this year. The company recently requested an additional six months from the Nevada Gaming Control Board to finish technology and software testing. Odds are that the entire six months won’t be necessary.