New Jersey Bill Gains Momentum

Once it was passed by the legislature last year Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey vetoed the internet gambling bill Democrat Senator Ray Lesniak sponsored. Another internet gambling bill was introduced by Lesniak and fellow Democrat Senator Jim Whelan.

Governor Christie vetoed the bill since he wanted the revenue gained from it to benefit Atlantic City land casinos. This is why Lesniak and Whelan decided to withdraw the benefits that was supposed to go to the horse racing industry from their new bill.

As a result it had a negative impact on the horse racing industry as a whole. Lobbyist Barbara DeMarco said that she would file a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of expanded gambling in the state. She quipped that Freehold Raceway and Atlantic City Race Course officials would never support this legislation. Representatives of the Meadowlands Racetrack and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey said that they also oppose the new bill. The good news is that the Senate Government and Wagering Committee passed the bill with three votes in favor, none against and two abstentions. The aim now is to bring the bill before the full New Jersey Senate.

Senator Whelan said that he hoped that New Jersey will be the first jurisdiction to regulate internet casinos and poker in the United States. He pointed out that it’s imperative not to delay the bill and whoever moves first will gain the high ground first. With regard to the horse racing lobby, Whelan added that he is open to discussion but stated their “do this or else” attitude will only complicate matter sfurther.

Governor Christie said that he is interested in the bill and hopes that the concerns he raised last year when he vetoed the bill had been addressed. He is fully aware that members of his office are in touch with Senators Lesniak and Whelan but must still be briefed on this issue.

In the meantime, John Burzichelli vice chairman of the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee said that an expert on the state Constitution needs to be consulted first to ascertain whether there exists a legislative requirement of going to the voters. The state’s Constitution stipulates that no gambling is permitted outside Atlantic City except betting on horse racing and the purchase of lottery tickets. Lesniak said that all parties agreed that the online gambling servers should be based in Atlantic City.



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