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NJ Has High Hopes For Internet Gambling [AUDIO]

Delivering his Fiscal Year 2014 State Budget Address was not the only big thing Governor Chris Christie did Tuesday afternoon.

Luis Davilla, Getty Images

He also signed into law an Internet gaming bill. In the midst of a dismal economy and more competition Atlantic City’s casinos are suffering and the less revenue the casinos bring, the more taxpayers need to fork over to keep vital programs alive.

Christie is confident Internet gambling will be a huge success.

“I am pleased to say that I signed New Jersey’s Internet Gaming Bill, opening the way for new opportunity to bolster our efforts to continue the revival of Atlantic City, its casinos and entertainment offerings,” explains Christie. “This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly, but with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole.”

The Christie Administration is hoping Sandy recovery, a massive ad campaign and Internet gaming will double casino revenues in the next fiscal year bringing them to almost $500 million. The state’s top money man says the state could use that revenue.

“The casino revenue fund has obviously been a disappointment,” explains State Treasurer Andrew Saidamon-Eristoff. “It’s a major contributing factor to the shortfall in other revenue.”

Less success for Atlantic City’s casinos means fewer tourists which means less tax revenue. Sales and Income tax revenue is lost when jobs are lost. The sponsors of the bill say all of this will be addressed through Internet gaming.

“Internet gaming is a significant accomplishment that will generate lasting economic benefits for the casinos, for Atlantic City and for the State of New Jersey,” says State Senator Ray Lesniak. “It will provide immediate benefits by extending a financial lifeline to the casinos that have been struggling with gaming losses in recent years, preventing some from closing their doors and allowing their workers to keep their jobs. It will be a boost for Atlantic City and for the state, generating new economic opportunities and new jobs for years to come.”

An analysis by Wells Fargo Securities determined that Internet gaming would attract more visitors to the casinos, create more jobs and generate up to $1.5 billion in new revenue. Another study by Econsult says that New Jersey casinos would win back customers lost to competition from other states and that a new pool of customers would be drawn to Atlantic City.

“The New Jersey gaming industry, a vital part of Atlantic City’s economy, has taken heavy hits over the past few years as neighboring states have increasingly competed in the market,” explains State Senator Jim Whelan, the one-time mayor of Atlantic City. “An innovative approach to wagering is essential to ensure that New Jersey’s gaming industry continues to grow and thrive and to protect the thousands of New Jersey jobs tied to the industry.”

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