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State of online gaming in N.J. becoming issue of concern

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When the governors of Delaware and Nevada got together last month to sign an interstate online gaming agreement — essentially allowing residents of both states to play in the other — it was the first deal of its kind.

And one that didn't include the only other state that has online gaming: New Jersey, which passed on the opportunity.

The only question: Why?

Gov. Chris Christie admitted in his recent budget address that the state's rollout has fallen far short of revenue expectations, but the governor's office and the state Division of Gaming Enforcement have been mum on the subject since — and didn't respond to requests for comment on this story.

The lack of action is concerning to one of the biggest proponents of online gaming: Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union).

"It sets a bad a precedent for us," he said. "My concern is that the message that it sends is that we're not going to be aggressive."

William Pascrell III, a Princeton Public Affairs Group lobbyist who represents Isle of Man-based online gaming company PokerStars, isn't as concerned.

The way Pascrell sees it — "not to disrespect or dismiss" Nevada or Delaware — New Jersey has "much higher priorities."

Lesniak has dreams of international players, but he doesn't want to see New Jersey overtaken in the U.S.

As other states begin to legalize their own versions of online gaming, New Jersey has to be ready.

"Nevada has (now) shown that it can put one of these deals together," Lesniak said.

E-mail to: andrewg@njbiz.com

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