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$47 million

January 24, 2011

The New Jersey legislature -- scrambling to revitalize the state’s gaming industry -- recently approved two bills aimed at allowing Atlantic City casinos to expand their offerings. One will let casinos run online versions of their current games within the state, which could bring in between $47 million and $55 million in annual tax revenues and create some 1,900 jobs, according to a study by Philadelphia-based Econsult. The study also indicates that the legislation could position Atlantic City as the hub of online gambling in the United States, when and if it become legal in other states, leading to much higher tax receipts and billions in revenues.

The second bill would put the issue of whether the state should allow sports betting in Atlantic City and at the state’s racetracks on the November ballot. Currently, the federal government bans sports betting in all but four states -- Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. State Senators Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) have filed suit along with the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association to overturn the ban, calling it unconstitutional and a violation of interstate commerce.

Both bills passed the legislature by overwhelming margins, but they await Gov. Chris Christie's signature.

In any case, many New Jerseyans who might have been tempted to bet on last night’s Jets vs. Steelers playoff game -- if sports betting were legal in the Garden State -- may be breathing a sigh of relief today. Presumably, hometown enthusiasm would have carried them away -- but the Jets didn't just lose, they failed to beat the oft-quoted 4-point spread.

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