NJ Governor Christie Encourages New Online Gambling Bill
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie once more vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have legalized online gambling in the state, but the reaction was not what most would have expected. Law makers who supported the bill were not disappointed by Christie’s refusal, but rather encouraged by his explanatory speech to write up a new version, which is expected to pass as soon as March 2013.
When the news initially spread that New Jersey’s hopes for a licensed and regulated online gaming sector had once more been vetoed, just as they were by Gov. Christie in 2011, many were surprised and grieved by the decision. However, the Republican leader stepped forth with an inspiring statement that reassured proponents that legalization is imminent, but that the current bill lacked a few vital elements that the governor simply could not ignore.
Christie wants casinos to be taxed at a higher rate than originally proposed. He said that revenue generated from online casino gambling should be increased from 10% to 15%. He also demands a stipulation in the legislature that would create for a 10-year trial period. This would instigate a renewal of legislation after 10 years wherein all guidelines could be reviewed and altered as needed ““ if needed. In addition, an annual analysis of the impact of online wagering activities in relation to problem gambling would be required.
“Now is the time for our state to move forward, again leading the way for the nation, by becoming one of the first states to permit Internet gaming,”? read the statement from Gov. Christie. “While Atlantic City’s reputation and stature as one of the premier resort destinations on the East Coast are well-chronicled, it is no secret that revenue from the region’s most important industries, gaming and tourism, has been in decline.”?
Everyone took Christie’s statement as words of encouragement, rather than another failure. Assemblyman John Amadeo conveyed his enthusiasm, stating that “the governor’s expressed concerns can easily be addressed. He believes the necessary alterations can be achieved, presented and passed into law as early as the end of March.
One of the most aggressive advocates of legalization has been State Senator Raymond Lesniak, and even he relayed a cheerful sentiment towards the governor’s feedback. The Casino Association of New Jersey was uplifted by the response as well. The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association Director, Joseph Brennan Jr, actually viewed the veto as a “victory”?.
“The changes Gov. Christie has asked for show his commitment to New Jersey becoming the leader in iGaming. The protections they put in place are consistent with the governor’s long-held desire to make New Jersey the epicenter of a safe and secure online gaming industry,”? Brennan said. “There is still a little work to do, but this is a major victory.”?
Yet another party was heartened by the response of New Jersey’s governor, The Rational Group. The Isle of Man based company is the parent of PokerStars, the world’s leading online poker operator. The Rational Group has already negotiated a contract to purchase the recently struggling Atlantic City Club casino. The acquisition would give PokerStars a pre-existing foothold in New Jersey when online gambling becomes lawful.
A spokesman for The Ration Group, Eric Hollresier, relayed the company’s consonance with the decision. “We welcome the definitive statements made today by Gov. Christie in seeking to place New Jersey at the forefront of Internet gaming in the United States.”? Hollreiser went on to praise Christie’s views on the importance of legalizing online gaming, referencing the imminent increase in “job creation”? and “economic development”? that New Jersey is in such dire need of.
Atlantic City casinos have been on a steady decline in terms of revenue and much needed tax generation for the state, a situation that is greatly attributed to the up-rise of casinos in neighboring states. Atlantic City casinos drew more than $8 billion in revenue in 2006. That number has progressively dropped with each passing year to just over $3 billion in 2012.