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The Future of New Jersey’s Intrastate Gambling Bill

14 February 2011 by admin

There are only 18 days left for Governor Chris Christie to decide what he is going to do in regards to the bill that would legalize and regulate online gambling within the state of New Jersey. Christie has until March 4th to either sign the bill or veto it. If he does neither the bill will become law since it passed in the House Assembly and in the State Senate.

But let’s look at all the possible outcomes for this bill, see what could be in its near future.

First there is the most desired outcome, that Christie signs the bill into law. This would be a big help to revitalizing Atlantic City, which was a big part of Christie campaign to become governor in the first place. The bill, sponsored by Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, would give the brick and mortar casinos in Atlantic City the first chance to create online components of themselves or partner with a third party to offer casino games online. This would be a new source of revenue for the brick and mortar casinos. The added benefit is that the online counterparts could offer comps that could be redeemed in the brick and mortar counterparts, which would bring traffic to the resorts, further boosting revenue. More revenue for the Atlantic City casinos would mean more revenue for New Jersey in the taxes the casinos pay the state.

But let’s say that Christie does nothing. Then the bill passes as it is and the outcome would be the same as if he had signed the online gambling bill into law. The only difference is that it could be seen as Christie walking a thin political line between going against his party, who is throwing his name around as a potential for the 2012 presidential ticket, and not going against his word to help revitalize Atlantic City. It is a thin line for Christie to walk, but with no action leaning one way of the other, this may be the outcome that happens.

Now let’s speculate on the other options, one that is bad and one that is not as great.

First, the bad possible outcome. Christie could veto the online gambling bill. While a fair number of Republicans did vote in favor of the bill to allow New Jersey to have and regulate online gambling, it is likely the same would not happen a second time. Usually what happens when a bill is vetoed is lawmakers will split back into their own parties and vote party to party. With a Republican House and Senate, the veto would stand if Republican lawmakers followed their governor, which is likely to happen since that is what happens more often than not when a veto happens.

But there is a ray of hope in a veto, and this is another possibility that Christie could take to still walk that thin political line. He could send the bill back to state lawmakers on a conditional veto. A conditional veto would be Christie making notes on the bill—suggested changes that he feels are necessary—and then sending it back to New Jersey lawmakers to sort out. This would buy him time to see if his name moves forward in the talk of the 2012 Republican ticket while giving lawmakers the chance to make a more solid bill before it was sent back to Christie’s desk. Of course there is the flip side in that it gives Republicans in the House and Senate another chance to vote on the bill and keep it moving forward or kill it.

Naturally there is hope that Christie will keep his word to revitalize Atlantic City and sign the bill that would give New Jersey online gambling. This bill is not only a bill to go over the head of the UIGEA; it is a chance to breathe life back into Atlantic City if they could offer online gambling to patrons.

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