Article II of the United States Constitution, commonly referred to as the Supremacy clause, gives citizens of the United States the right to worship situs poker online freely and to freely exercise their rights as a citizen of the United States. It also gives the United States Congress, or the President, the power to disapprove any law inconsistent with the Constitution. The House and Senate both must pass a bill, resolution, or proclamation before it becomes law. In other words, the U.S. Congress must decide whether or not the law passed by the voters is Constitutional.
Article II of the Constitution generally refers to U.S. soil only. Article III states that the U.S. Representatives and the Senate must do, generally speaking, when acting on any legislation. Article II and Article III refer to U.S. soil only. Therefore, online casinos in New Jersey, while they may be operated within the state, are not subject to the decisions and opinions of state courts, or state lawmakers.
One might naturally assume, then, that online casino betting would be illegal in New Jersey, when such gambling takes place on the Internet. That would seem to fall under the “Gambling Penalties” part of the law. Gambling transactions are defined as any transaction involving a bet or the acceptance of payment for gambling goods. These include all casino games, even virtual poker games.
However, it appears that the recent decision in Rhode Island v. Commission of Gaming Enforcement (C Gambler) would put all state casinos in New Jersey under the same “gambling” umbrella as online poker and sports betting websites. In this case, the Court of Appeal of the State of New Jersey, by a unanimous vote, decided that the state’s two casinos, its Board of Gaming and Licensing (BGL), and its Department of Business and Consumer Protection (DBCP) did not have the power to ban online casinos. The three-judgment court found the BGL and DBCP had exceeded their jurisdiction in a case involving the
enforcement of a mandate by the New Jersey State Legislature to expand the capacity of licensed casinos on the state’s two casinos, namely the Regent Park Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City and the Sands of Time Resort in Bangor. Specifically, the Court of Appeal held that the mandate, which extended the total number of casino slots from eight to nine was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the circumstances surrounding the expansion of the Regent Park Hotel and Casino. The Court of Appeals found that it could not apply the reasoning set forth in holding that the legislature could protect against the harm done to the New Jersey gaming industry from the threatened passage of a constitutional amendment limiting casino gambling, even if the amendment passed by a majority of state voters, without having regard to the harm caused to the regulated casinos themselves.
While the Court of Appeals may well have found an entanglement between the powers of the regulated casinos and the expansion of slots via a mandate and thus found the two institutions to be guilty of unconstitutionality in passing the law, the Court of Appeals also held that the expansion of slots via a mandate, while intended to stave off the likely advent of legislation limiting casino gambling, did not violate any of the fundamental principles underlying the Bill of Rights. Chief Justice John Paul Stevens,
joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and dissenting Justices Sandra Day O’Neil, John Marshall, and Antonin Scalia, delivered the opinion of the Court in what is widely considered to be the most important case in decades. The case ultimately delivered a major blow to the defacto online casino laws across the country, but only after a decades-long effort by numerous legal experts, including some from the Department of Justice, to build a strong case against the states’ blanket internet gambling ban. After the Court of Appeals decision, all future gambling legislation in the state of New Jersey is found to be void, including both the controversial Casino Reinforcement Act and the separate Gaming Control Act.