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Online Gambling In New Jersey Could Cause World Trade Organization Issues

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The World Trade Organization already has a bad taste in its mouth when it comes to the Internet gambling laws in the US. On Monday, New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation that will allow licensed Atlantic City casinos to start offering online gambling to New Jersey residents and foreigners.

The inclusion of foreign gamblers may come at another steep price for the US. By allowing customers from other jurisdictions, New Jersey may be opening up potential international trade issues. It is something that Senator Raymond Lesniak has considered before he proposed his bill.

"We are going to be raising World Trade Organization issues by taking international gaming in New Jersey and showing how juvenile our federal government's policy is with regards to online gambling," said Lesniak. "It makes no sense, we're trying to isolate and segregate something people want to do, they do everywhere, and we create a mass of restrictions that's unconstitutional and quite frankly just dumb in terms of governmental policy."

The aim of Lesniak's ire was directed on US lawmakers that created the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act back in 2006. Already, the UIGEA has infringed on international trade agreements. Antigua and Barbuda won a case with the WTO after the UIGEA was created, and the European Union has also taken offense to the current US online gambling laws.

The move by New Jersey to authorize casinos to offer Internet gambling will serve as a wake-up call in Washington. Representative Barney Frank has been attempting to overturn the UIGEA for several years, but now Frank will have an actual case study that he can take to other lawmakers to show the benefits of online gambling.

Lesniak believes that Governor Chris Christie will sign the legislation into law by the end of the year. Lesniak, however, understands that regulations need to be conceived, and that could take some time. The hope is that the casinos are able to offer games such as blackjack, craps, roulette, slots, and poker sometime in 2011.

The bill spells out some specific regulations already. One of the stipulations in the bill calls for all equipment used to power the online gaming be located in the licensed AC casino. Another secure location could be used, but that location must be within the Atlantic City limits.

The online gambling is expected to help rejuvenate what has been a stagnant gaming industry in Atlantic City in recent years. If the new law helps, it will not be long before other states start moving in the direction of regulated Internet gaming industries. Florida and California would be the most likely to follow New Jersey into the online gambling market.

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