Pala Chairman Reacts to New Jersey Becoming Third State to Legalize Online Gaming


On February 26, Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill legalizing Internet gambling, making New Jersey the third state in the nation, after Delaware and Nevada, to offer online betting for real money.

In response, the Honorable Robert Smith, chair of the California Tribal Business Alliance and chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, expressed disappointment. “With the approval of the New Jersey online gaming law, the state, which has typically held to the gold standard of gaming regulations, now unfortunately appears to be weakening the eligibility requirements needed to obtain a gaming license,” Smith said in a statement.

“While the local market in New Jersey may be driving these sorts of decisions, in California we cannot allow for reciprocity with states that have lower standards and softer controls opening the doors to questionable corporations, which now appears to be the case in New Jersey,” Smith added. “Gaming at all levels should be held to the same, very high standards set for tribal gaming agencies in California. It is in these regulations that are in place to address the nature and the business of the gaming industry, that we maintain the trust in the game and the confidence of consumers and regional governments to promote a safe, fair and mutually beneficial gaming industry.”

Proponents of state-based online gaming, however, hope other states will use New Jersey's legal template as a model, reportedThe Wall Street Journal. Gov. Christie foresees interstate gambling as a money-making opportunity if more states legalize online wagering.

Before online gaming can commence in New Jersey, technology must be tested and approved, said Jennifer Webb of Gambling Compliance. Internet betting is expected to start within the state's borders before the end of November, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Only land-based casinos may obtain an online gaming license, although gaming facilities may partner with online betting sites to use their software. According to state law, bettors must be physically present inside New Jersey to play.

To participate, a player must first establish an account with a casino that offers Internet gaming, which entails providing proof he/she is of legal age, as well as indicating a principal residence and email address, Newsworks reported. Accounts may be funded with debit or credit cards.

The move to online gambling is Gov. Christie's latest attempt to revitalize the gaming industry in Atlantic City, where casino revenues dropped to just over $3 billion in 2012—the sixth straight time they had suffered losses from the previous year.

Analysts have provided mixed opinions on how significant the impact of Internet gaming will be, according to the Journal. One optimistic forecast by H2 Gambling Capital, which tracks online-gambling markets, predicts online gambling in New Jersey will generate revenue of $410 million the first year, growing to $590 million within a few years. The State of New Jersey will collect a 15 percent tax of the total revenue.