Thursday January 31,2013 : IS CHRISTIE CONSIDERING A ‘CONDITIONAL VETO'?
Influential insider says a political deal may be going down in New Jersey
It seems that very little is straightforward in politics, with the latest information out of New Jersey suggesting that Governor Chris Christie is considering a "conditional veto" instead of signing a new measure designed to legalise intrastate online gambling.
The bill has been sitting on Christie's desk since it passed both the Senate and Assembly, with the governor sending out apparently conflicting signals and keeping everyone guessing on whether he will veto or sign the new law.
On Wednesday an influential Atlantic City insider, magazine publisher Roger Gros, threw more material into the speculation machine by tweeting: "Sources in NJ tell me Gov. Christie considering a “conditional” veto of online bill. But only because Dems are blocking his other plans.”
Observers noted that this implies that the Republican governor may be using the online gambling bill as leverage in political deals to get the Democrats to support him on other issues.
A conditional veto means that the governor does not throw the whole bill out, but indicates areas with which he is not happy, opening the door to amendments by the Legislature that would allow him to sign off on a revised bill. It could also be an effective stalling tactic.
Such an amendment, experts speculate, might include a watering down of the online gambling legalization to embrace only online poker, something senior Nevada Democrat Harry Reid has been unsuccessfully trying to get through Congress as a federal law.
The industry will not have long to wait for the answer – the deadline for Governor Christie to make his move is next week.
Although the state of Nevada has generated the most publicity with its intrastate law permitting online poker, New Jersey and Delaware currently have the most all-embracing online gambling legalization bills in motion.
2013 is an election year in New Jersey, where the 120 politicians in the Senate and Assembly are voted in, along with a new state governor, and this is likely to exacerbate the situation as politicians consider what actions may or may not get them re-elected, and the two main parties struggle for supremacy at state level.
The publication NJ.com points out that the annual budget season, which traditionally consumes a significant amount of the Legislature's time and attention, is due to kick off within the next few weeks, and come July and August the summer recess puts even more pressure on lawmakers, so time could be an important element in finalising this issue.
The main driver of the online gambling legalization initiative in the state, Senator Ray Lesniak, has not yet reacted to the news from Gros. If it is true, and he is willing to make amendments suggested by the governor in a "conditional veto" scenario, it may be only online poker that is finally permitted in the Garden State.