Legislation to authorize Internet wagering at Atlantic City casinos to enable New Jerseyans to wager on casino games via the Internet was released yesterday by an Assembly panel.

The bill allows all games that may be played at a casino to be offered through Internet wagering. People would be allowed to be from out-of-state, as long as it's consistent with federal law, but that's a question that remains up in the air. Legal concerns caused Governor Chris Christie to veto a similar measure.

"We must position New Jersey's gaming industry to thrive in the 21st Century, and that involves authorizing a legally sound Internet gaming law," says bill co-sponsor, Assemblyman John Burzichelli. "This is another key piece of our effort to boost New Jersey's gaming industry by expanding and modernizing our wagering options. This will rejuvenate our tourist industry while increasing employment, capital investment and much needed urban redevelopment."

New Jersey's gaming industry could sure use a boost. Overall, Atlantic City's casinos took in $260.6 million in April, a 10 percent decline from a year ago. Slot machine revenue fell 9.2 percent, to $189.5 million, while table game revenue decreased by 12.1 percent, to $ 71.1 million. Casino revenues were up 3% nationwide in 2011, according to an annual report by the American Gaming Association.

Burzichelli and bill co-sponsors Assemblymen Vincent Prieto and Ruben Ramos say their Internet wagering measure would help New Jersey's gaming industry amid increased competition from other states.

Prieto explains, "Most everything else has migrated to the Internet and taken advantage of the consumer and revenue options it offers, and New Jersey's gaming industry should be no different. This is a carefully crafted bill designed to ensure Internet gaming on casino games is offered the right way. It's a much-needed competitive step forward for our casinos that could also raise more revenue to benefit senior and disabled citizens."

New Jersey could take out-of-state bets, as long as the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement determines that doing so wouldn't violate federal law. A Senate committee approved a similar bill last month.

"The Internet has long been a reality, and Internet gaming in New Jersey should now be reality too," says Ramos. "We have to move aggressively and thoughtfully to position our gaming industry to succeed, and this is another step toward that goal. It will mean economic growth and job creation for our state."