New Jersey is on its way to becoming one of the first states to legalize Internet wagering on casino games.

 

Sponsors of the bill permitting online wagers say they're confident the Legislature will act by the end of February to comply with the terms Gov. Chris Christie set out when he conditionally vetoed the measure.

Sen. Jim Whelan says a 10-year limit on that wagering that Christie wants is not troublesome.

"I can't conceive that 10 years from now the Legislature is going to say we don't need this money that's been coming in from the Internet," said Whelan, D-Atlantic. "So I think the reality is investors are going to be confident."

And the governor's call to raise the tax rate on casinos' online winnings also is not a problem, said Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union.

"That will not deter investors from making the million of dollars in investments that will be necessary for both the hardware and software to get these games going," he said. "It's still very profitable."

Supporters say Internet wagering will be a lifeline for Atlantic City casinos that may prevent some from closing. Pennsylvania casinos have increasingly drawn customers away from Atlantic City.

Internet gaming will keep the Atlantic Club casino in operation, Whelan said.

"They have a buyer, Poker Stars, that is an Internet company. Without this bill, they don't buy and without a new purchase in there, it's very unlikely Atlantic Club would have been able to survive," he said. "So right off the bat, we've saved 2,000 jobs. That's a good thing."

After licensing procedures, online wagering could be in place in Atlantic City casinos by the end of the year.