Governor Christie Delays Gambling Bill

Only on the 3 March will Governor Chris Christie reveal his assessment on intrastate online gambling in New Jersey. On this day the legislature reconvenes culminating seven days of passionate lobbying on both sides of the debate.

Christie, one of the favourites to run as the presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 2012 will make his decision on internet casino gambling on Thursday the 3. Since January the 10 is 45 days after Senator Raymond Lesniak’s egaming bill passed. Christie will wait after the legislative recess that will begin following his budget address to local politicians. On March the 3 we’ll know whether or not online gambling gambling will be regulated in the state of New Jersey.

Joe Brennan, of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) president said he’s positive the bill would be signed by Christie into law. But “no one is going to dispute the Governor if he wants an additional week since legislature is in recess”.

The delay has already started extreme lobbying from both the pro intrastate iMEGA and the financially sound pro federal casino group Caesars. iMEGA and its principal lobbyist Bill Pascrell III will try and convince Christie to pass the bill into law. Ideally speaking it would create thousands of new jobs and generate an approximate US$250m in annual government funds; in effect this would reduce the state’s rising budget deficit.

Caesars might see this differently and feel that the Governor Christie might have second thoughts in his decision to permit New Jersey to become the first state in the US to allow internet casinos; since the inception of the UIGEA in 2006. The group which owns four casinos in Atlantic City feels a federal solution to all United States citizens could create a lot of revenue, should Christie turn down its wishes in New Jersey, it would severely impact on the federal bill to be passed at a later date.

iMEGA and Caesars have been caught up in heated debates for the last year over the lobby group’s attempts to pass a bill enabling Atlantic City’s casinos to offer casino games via the internet. The group has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the unsuccessful Harry Reid federal bill at the end of 2010. Of late, internet casinos will be encouraged by a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll of more than 800 New Jersey voters, indicating that 65% of residents are not in favour to permit the state’s casinos to operate and manage online casinos. Only 26% are in favour. In contrast to this a large proportion of New Jersey voters are keen to consent to sports betting. The study found that 53% said they support changing the law, up from 45% a year ago and ahead of 39% who favoured it in a 2010 national survey. Allowed only in four states across the U.S sports betting is banned.

Presently a motion is issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is contested by Senator Lesniak, iMEGA and Senate President Stephen Sweeney are currently contesting a motion by the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss their attempt to overturn the 1991 federal law prohibiting state-regulated sports betting. New Jersey voters will vote in November in a referendum in a bid to authorize sports betting at the state’s racetracks and internet casinos.

Christie is set to give his yearly state budget address in a joint session in Trenton at 2pm today.



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