It’s not a state holiday. There won’t be a parade down the streets of Atlantic City. However, there may be a few state lawmakers and casino industry insiders raising a glass next month to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the day then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed the state’s online gambling bill into law.

On Feb. 26, 2013, a bill permitting internet gambling in the state was approved by the New Jersey Legislature. It was signed into law by Christie later that day. It took almost nine months before legal and regulated online gambling actually launched in New Jersey.

However, it has been a tremendous and growing success ever since.

That’s one successful NJ online gambling bill

In fact, New Jersey online gambling sites posted $245.6 million in online gambling revenues in 2017. That represents an almost 25 percent increase from the record-breaking $196.7 million in online gambling revenues posted in 2016.

Actually, the numbers have gone up more than 20 percent every year since the state launched legal and regulated online gambling. NJ online gambling revenues have doubled since the first full year of operations in 2014. The sites posted $122.9 million in online gambling revenue in 2014.

That’s certainly something the state’s successful online casino and online poker operators might want to celebrate. However, state lawmakers should be popping bottles alongside them as well.

By May 2017, the amount of taxes the state had collected from online gambling operators since launch had surpassed $100 million. By the end of the year that number was more than $125 million and counting.

What could have been for NJ online casinos

Everybody’s winning, and the anniversary of the day the state’s online gambling bill was signed into law is as good a day as any to celebrate it. Although, it wasn’t originally supposed to be Feb. 26. In fact, it could have been March 3 two years earlier.

New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill that would have made the state the first in the nation to legalize internet gambling in early 2011. However, instead of signing the bill into law on March 3, 2011, Christie vetoed it.

Apparently, Christie feared the bill didn’t do enough to prevent opportunistic entrepreneurs from setting up internet cafes around the state that could operate as makeshift casinos.

It also could have been Feb. 7. New Jersey legislators fixed the internet cafe issue and passed a new online gambling bill in early 2013. However, instead of signing this bill into law on Feb. 7, 2013, Christie vetoed it again. This time he said he wanted the tax rate raised from 10 percent to 15 percent before he would sign.

The change was made and the bill became law on Feb. 26, 2013.

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Coincidentally, Feb. 26 was also rock-and-roll legend Fats Domino’s birthday. The man behind 1950s hits such as “I’m Walkin’,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” and “Blueberry Hill” played countless shows on the Jersey shore before his death in 2017.

Feb. 26 was also the birth date of country music legend Johnny Cash. With his memorable twang on country classics such as “Ring of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” Cash played a number of Atlantic City casinos over the years. He was also part owner of an Asbury Park hotel and spent considerable time in the small seaside city before his death in 2003.

Image credit: Rich Koele / Shutterstock.com

Martin Derbyshire

About

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.