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New Jersey Becomes Third State to Legalize Online Gambling

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in February signed a bill legalizing online gambling in Atlantic City. New Jersey joins Nevada and Delaware as the third state to allow Internet gambling, Bloomberg reported.
“This was a critical decision and one that I did not make lightly,” Christie said. “I am confident that we are offering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole.”
Under the law, any game played in Atlantic City’s 12 casinos can be played on the Internet, initially only within the state. This will be expanded later to third parties who want to partner with the state, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark. Casinos must apply for an online gambling permit.
Christie initially vetoed the bill in early February and the legislature came back with a new version containing his recommendations. Those recommendations included increased funds for gambling addiction services, a casino tax rate of 15 percent rather that the originally proposed 10 percent and a provision allowing the law to expire after 10 years, The Star-Ledger reported.
State casino revenue is expected to nearly double next fiscal year thanks to online gambling, additional advertising and Hurricane Sandy recovery, according to The Star-Ledger. The governor’s office has projected casino tax revenue of $435.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year, compared to the 2013 fiscal year revenue of $235.4 million.
The measure is also expected to save a few of Atlantic City’s casinos that were in danger of closing, according the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Raymond Lesniak. He has indicated the online gambling operation should be up and running by September.
 
ELECTIONS DIRECTOR
Will Senning is Vermont’s new state elections director, the Burlington Free Press reported in March. Senning will oversee state and local elections, coordinate campaign finance report filings and gather election results in his new position. One priority for the director will be to make information more accessible to the public via online measures. He replaces Kathy Scheele, who retired after 13 years as director.
 
CHILD ABUSE
A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania’s lawmakers announced in March a 16-bill package aimed at overhauling the state’s child abuse reporting system, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The bills tackle many of the recommendations made by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection. Proposals include expanding the definition of child abuse, as well as expanding the list of people legally required to report child abuse.
 
BUDGET FORECAST
The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council in March increased estimates for the 2014 fiscal year personal and corporate income tax receipts, The News Journal of Dover reported. The council raised projections by $37.6 million compared to figures released in December. Based on new figures, the state will have an additional $11.1 million to spend in fiscal year 2014.
 
VANDALISM PENALTIES
Rhode Island Sen. Frank Lombardi introduced a bill in March to increase penalties for those found guilty of certain acts of vandalism, according to The Associated Press. Vandals doing more than $1,500 worth of property damage would be guilty of a felony under the bill. The legislation was introduced in response to a 2011 incident in a Newport cemetery, where vandals did more than $100,000 worth of damage. Vandalism is a misdemeanor under current state law.
 
BOND PROPOSAL
Maine Gov. Paul LePage in March proposed a $100 million bond package to fund transportation projects, including road and bridge upgrades. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Flood, would require passage by two-thirds of the legislature and voter approval via referendum, the Portland Press Herald reported. Included in the proposal is $46 million for highway projects and $30 million for bridge repairs.
 
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