Thursday February 7,2013 : NEW JERSEY ONLINE GAMBLING BILL VETOED BY GOVERNOR (Update)
Another last minute negative decision by Christie
The suspense of the past 45 days is over at last….and not in a good way. On Thursday New Jersey governor Chris Christie for the second time imposed a last-minute veto on an attempt to legalise intrastate online gambling.
The Associated Press news agency reported late Thursday that the governor vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the third state to legalise gambling over the Internet, following Nevada and Delaware.
It appears to have been a conditional veto, because Christie said that he would be prepared to sign off on the bill if it had a 10-year time limit and a higher tax rate on internet casinos.
A conditional veto means that legislators can take the governor's recommendations on board, amend the legalization and re-submit it to his desk.
Christie said in a statement that he supports online gambling, with some minor changes, including boosting the tax rate on casinos' online winnings from 10 percent to 15 percent.
The governor said: "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. 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.
"Since the beginning of my administration, I have stressed the importance of reversing the trend of economic contraction in Atlantic City and have made the revitalization of the region's gaming and tourism industries a key priority," Christie said.
Since 2006, New Jersey's land casino revenues from Atlantic City casinos has fallen from $5.2 billion to just over $3 billion last year.
The main driver of the measure, state Senator Raymond Lesniak, said he was encouraged by Christie's comments and predicted the changes the governor wants could be quickly accomplished in a new bill.
Internet gambling based in Atlantic City would "pump hundreds of millions of dollars into its ailing revenues, and will prevent the closing of at least one casino and save thousands of jobs," Lesniak said.
"New Jersey will now have an opportunity to be the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming and reap the huge economic benefits that will flow into the state."
In 2011 Christie vetoed a similar measure, again pushed by Sen. Lesniak, on concerns regarding its constitutionality and the possible proliferation of betting venues. The veto was not challenged, and Lesniak instead tried to address the governor's requirements in his 2012 version of the bill, which again successfully passed through the state Legislature with a good majority and was presented to the governor.
In December the Department of Justice conceded that the Wire Act pertains only to online sports betting, opening the legal door to more internet gambling activity by individual states in the absence of precise federal legalization.