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New Jersey gets online gambling as governor signs revised bill

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claps while giving his State of the State address in the assembly chamber in Trenton, New Jersey, January
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claps while giving his State of the State address in the assembly chamber in Trenton, New Jersey, January

(Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday approved online gambling within the state's border, a move that he hopes can help boost state revenues and revive Atlantic City casinos.

The measure, announced the same day that Christie unveiled his new budget plan for fiscal 2014, will legalize Internet gaming to New Jersey's 9 million residents and also create opportunities for European companies with expertise in running online gaming operations.

New Jersey, the 11th most populous state, will become the largest so far and the third in the United States to allow online gambling after Delaware and Nevada, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nevada, home to international gambling Mecca Las Vegas, last week became the first U.S. state to allow interstate online poker.

"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," Christie said in a statement.

The Republican governor signed the legislation after Democratic lawmakers agreed to make several changes, including a provision to review the program after 10 years to gauge its impact on problem gambling.

By legalizing internet gaming, New Jersey could see a huge jump in state casino revenue, to an estimated $436 million in fiscal 2014 from $235 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to budget documents.

Earlier this month, the prospect of a quick approval of online gambling in New Jersey spurred gains among gaming companies on both side of the Atlantic amid hopes it could unlock a market worth up to $1 billion.

(Reporting by Tiziana Barghini and Hilary Russ; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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