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Nevada Beats New Jersey As First State With Legal Online Gambling

Nevada has become the first state in the U.S. to legalize online gambling. The legislation was signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval on Thursday, Feb. 21.

To ensure his state's spot in online history, Sandoval went as far as passing Bill 114 as an emergency measure through both houses of the assembly and senate.

The race was on, Sandoval felt, due to East Coast gambling rival New Jersey's avowed interest in similar legislation. The legislation took less than seven hours to complete, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

"We're going to do it now. We're going to beat New Jersey," said Assembly Majority Leader William Horne just prior to the signing.

With both New Jersey and Nevada vying to become the destination of choice for online gamblers (as they do in the physical world's gambling realm), Sandoval set the initiative as a top priority in his last State of the State Speech.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey vetoed a similar bill passed by the legislature in his state, although it is speculated he will sign an amended bill within the month.

"To the great state of New Jersey, Nevada is still No. 1 in gaming and will continue to be," said Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson just before his state's senate unanimously voted for the bill.

"This is good-natured competition," said Pete Ernaut, lobbyist for the Nevada Resort Association. "If we get there first, fantastic. If we get there within 24 to 48 hours, it's not a big deal." Ernaut later referred to the rivalry as the "gaming version of the space race."

"This is a historic day. This is the day we usher Nevada into the next frontier of gaming," said Sandoval.

Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, with New Jersey trailing behind on its own legislation in 1977.

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