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When David Rebuck was first appointed as the director of New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement by Governor Chris Christie in 2011 few, if any, could have imagined the legacy he’d leave behind after his retirement 13 years later.

The man who helped pioneer the NJ sportsbooks with free bets, and helped dozens of other states launch legal gambling operations of their own is stepping down, ending a career with impacts far beyond the Garden State.

In 2011, when Rebuck first started his role, the Atlantic City casino industry was reeling from the pressure of competition in neighboring states and the reverberating aftereffects of the 2008 financial crisis. With multiple of the city's casinos closing down during his first few years in office, the former deputy attorney general presided over a massive change that would end up righting the ship, legal online gambling.

“The focus has been on the rebirth of Atlantic City,” Rebuck said in November 2013 about the legalization of online casinos. “The thinking is that new revenue streams that could come about through more attractive play by casinos and the internet could generate that much more revenue.”

The result was a massive success. New Jersey went on to lead the nation in the amount of money won from online gamblers for 10 years, only being passed (barely) by Michigan in 2023. And while they still are struggling on the retail side, this online market has kept the Atlantic City casino industry afloat, with them reporting a decent 2.2% revenue increase last year.

For most, overseeing the successful implementation of online casino gambling would be a career-defining achievement, but Rebuck didn’t stop there. After the Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. The National Collegiate Athletic Association allowed the Garden State to legalize sports betting; it was Rebuck who led the charge in creating the rules and regulations surrounding the practice.

And it was these regulations that would become the blueprint for many more states' adoption of sports betting, with dozens of them seeking out Rebuck himself as an advisor on the matter.

“We’d give them our actual book, and say, ‘This is what we do, this is how we do it and this is how you can do it,’” Rebuck said in an interview. “This is a copycat industry; once people see something that works, they want to do it, too.”

From a gambling industry on the verge of collapse to one at the forefront of the modern digital age, Rebuck is truly an industry titan, even if he doesn't want to take the credit.

“I have always said the achievements at DGE have not been the result of any one person,” Rebuck said in an interview.

Replacing Rebuck is lawyer Mary Jo Flaherty, who is set to serve as interim director after over 40 years of experience working with the DGE.

"Mary brings with her over 40 years of experience in regulating the gaming industry within DGE,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platking in a news release. “I am grateful for her stepping up to lead the Division at this critical time."

If you or anyone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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