On October 13th, 2006, the United States introduced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which prevented the transfer of funds from American parties to online gambling and online poker websites, with the exception of American owned lottery and horse racing websites. This forced many global online casinos and online poker rooms to reject membership applications from American players. It was bad news for American gamblers and bad news for poker sites that relied heavily on American traffic.
However, on November 23rd, 2010, the poker players of the United were given a huge boost when the New Jersey Senate backed an Internet Gambling Bill that would enable New Jersey residents to play online via Atlantic City casinos. This would mean the state would generate well over $35 million through tax revenue.
Raymond Lesniak introduced the bill, which gained an approval victory margin of 29-5, and commented that the state of New Jersey was deadly serious about carrying this forward. The state wishes to lead the way in introducing gambling back into the American conscience. Whilst Atlantic City has always been seen as the less popular cousin of Las Vegas, the state hopes that the passing of this bill will propel Atlantic City into the fore and become a major rival to Las Vegas as a gambling resort. They have even spoken of the potential of welcoming foreign users in order to create a larger membership pool and rake in even more revenue.
On a larger scale, the passing of this bill might signal the shift in mentality that the United States is experiencing under the new Democratic rule. Supporters of the gambling industry always claimed that the UIGEA was passed based on an archaic assumptions of old school representatives who had little to no experience or knowledge of the gambling domain and its influence on the public and economy. The passing of this New Jersey bill might signal the first victory for those who felt that the UIGEA not only was unfair but also unreasonable.
Now that New Jersey has broken the mould and came out with this law, how long will it be before other states follow suit? It remains to be seen if this is a major breakthrough for fans of gambling and those who wish to use gambling websites in the US and a step closer to abolishing the restrictive UIGEA or just a local, interstate affair.