The New Jersey State Senate has passed a bill that would regulate online poker, making it the first legislative body in the United States to do so. The bill passed easily on Monday, making it through the legislature by a 29-5 margin.

The bill passed as part of an effort by the Senate to help reinvigorate the struggling gambling and horse racing industries in the state. Atlantic City casinos have seen years of declining revenues, and several of the bills passed are aimed specifically at driving more revenue into the struggling city.

The online poker allowed by this bill would be intrastate only, meaning that only New Jersey residents and not other American citizens would be eligible to play on the site or sites created by the legislation. However, an amendment to the bill would allow players from other countries to also create accounts on these sites.

While the bill was widely popular and passed easily, there were groups that stood in opposition to the idea of regulating online poker in the state. Most notably, Harrah’s Entertainment had come out staunchly against the bill, despite having supported similar bills on the federal level. According to a report by pokernews.com, Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association chairman Joe Brennan Jr. speculated about what it might take to get Harrah’s on board with the legislation.

“By opposing this, it makes Harrah’s seem like they only want a federal bill so the jobs and investment go to corporate headquarters in Nevada,” Brennan said. “I think they alienated a lot of politicians in New Jersey, a lot of people who matter.”

The legislation still has some way to go before it would become law in New Jersey. The law would also need to be passed by the New Jersey State Assembly, and would then have to be signed into law by Governor Chris Christie. The large margin of victory in the Senate, however, has given many supporters hope that this bill will indeed become law in the near future.

“New Jersey is very serious about this,” Brennan said. “They want to be the capital of this industry in the U.S. and have the resources to make a legitimate claim to be the home for this industry beyond being the first ones to pass a law.”


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