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Gov. Christie Supports Internet Gambling, If…

Governor Chris Christie
Governor's Office

It appears that the push to legalize casino-operated Internet gambling before the 2011 session of the state Legislature officially comes to an end has stalled. Yesterday, Governor Chris Christie went public with his position on the issue and why he vetoed the bill the first time around.

“I think New Jersey should be in that business,” says Christie. “I think we should be an epicenter for that business, but I want to do it right. I do not want to rush and get legislation that either doesn’t pass state constitutional muster or creates other problems for us………Folks should know, I favor it. I want to do it. I vetoed the last bill because I felt like it would open up the opportunity for there to be Internet gambling houses all over the State of New Jersey.”

The Governor has another condition. He says none of the revenue from Internet gaming can go to subsidize the horse racing industry. He says if that is in the bill he will not sign it.

But it may be up to New Jersey voters to decide whether online betting should be allowed in the state. The Legislature has held up the measure, because the state Constitution may require that the question be put to voters. If the bill is not approved by Monday, it must be reintroduced after the Legislature reorganizes Tuesday.

A recent U.S. Justice Department opinion has opened the door for cash-strapped states to bring online gambling to their residents, as long as it does not involve sports betting. The recent DOJ ruling has one New Jersey lawmaker trying to fast-track his bill before the legislative session ends new legislators are sworn in on Tuesday.

The DOJ opinion not only gives New Jersey the green light for online gambling, it gives other states the same opportunity. New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak says, “It’s very critical for New Jersey to get there and get there first before Nevada. There are hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact billions of dollars at stake.”

Online poker boomed in the U.S. over the last decade, but a 2006 law made it illegal to run most online gambling businesses by forbidding financial institutions from processing transactions related to illegal online gambling.

“We (New Jersey) can be the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming,” believes Lesniak. “It’s the wave of the future.”

Lesniak says online gaming would also bring thousands of jobs to Atlantic City.

Fairleigh Dickinson University several times in recent years has polled New Jersey and the nation on the question of allowing internet betting, every time finding a majority of voters oppose it.

In February 2011 two-thirds of New Jersey voters (67%) said they opposed the idea, while 26% supported it. Opposition included even those who wager in office pools (56-38), as well as those who had been recently to a casino or a slots parlor (65-29).


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