The New Jersey State Senate passed online gambling legislation on Thursday.

Bill A2578, which passed the State Assembly earlier in the week, would authorize casinos in Atlantic City to offer a full slate of internet gambling to state residents.

It was merged with Senate bill 1565 and passed by a margin of 33-3.

During the brief debate on the bill, opponents argued that the tax rate contained in the legislation was too low. Senator Jim Whelan defended the 10% rate as being necessary for New Jersey to compete globally and become the hub for internet gambling.

The bill now moves to Governor Chris Christie for his signature that would pass the bill into law.

Christie vetoed similar legislation in 2011. However, that was before the US Department of Justice revised its opinion that it no longer considers online gaming to be in violation of the Wire Act. Supporters of the bill hope this go around will be different.

Earlier this year, in reference to online gaming, Christie remarked, “I think New Jersey should be in that business. I think we should be an epicenter for that business.”

Online gaming legislation was then promptly reintroduced, but even though the Governor’s staff worked closely with Senator Lesniak to craft a bill to the Governor liking, efforts to pass online gaming legislation earlier this year stalled.

Since then Delaware has legalized online gaming, federal efforts to pass online gaming legislation have failed and Nevada continues to move closer to launching its online poker program—now expected in early 2013.

Two weeks ago, a New Jersey Assembly Committee revised and reintroduced A2578. One change was the removal of language that sought to ban companies and their assets from entering the market if those companies offered online wagers to US residents after December 31, 2006.

Last week, it was learned that PokerStars is in “advanced talks” to purchase an Atlantic City casino which would presumably allow them to enter the online poker market upon the passage of legislation.