01/05/2012 : NEW JERSEY SENATOR HITS AN INTERNET GAMBLING SPEED BUMP (Update)
Latest attempt to legalise intrastate online gambling postponed on constitutional grounds
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has again relied on constitutional provisions to delay the latest attempt by state Senator Ray Lesniak to legalise intrastate online gambling, reports NJ.com.
Earlier this week , Sen.Lesniak announced that he intended to take full advantage of the new DoJ policy on internet gambling to rapidly push through a legalization bill in the remaining days of the current session of the legislature.
His S3019 bill was scheduled to be heard in Assembly and Senate committees today (Thursday) and voted on in full sessions of both houses next Monday.
However, Gov. Christie, who derailed Lesniak's last legalization attempt by exercising his veto on constitutional grounds despite overwhelming legislative approval, appears to have stepped in with a delaying tactic, again citing constitutional concerns.
Sen. Lesniak told local media that he had spoken to the governor and agreed to delay the reintroduction of his measure on internet gambling legalization to the first weeks of the next Legislative session.
"I expect that we can get it through the Legislature and signed by the Governor within the first few weeks of the new session,” Lesniak said in a statement Wednesday evening.
He revealed that the governor has concerns and legal questions on the bill, including whether it has to be put to voters on a ballot as a constitutional amendment.
“There are competing opinions on that within the administration and within the industry," Lesniak said. "But I am convinced that we can move forward and get it up and rolling without amending the constitution.”
The latest attempt includes most of the provisions in the draft version of the last bill, including licenses issued and policed by the Casino Control Commission; servers in Atlantic City and wagering restricted to New Jersey residents; a 21-year-old age limit; card games restricted to those available in Atlantic City land casinos; advertising restrictions; and the award of some of the revenues generated to the embattled horse racing industry.
Lesniak is betting that his latest version of the bill addresses most of the governor's earlier reservations, particularly his desire to keep core operations in Atlantic City.
Early indications are that Lesniak has hit the right note with the goivernor, who later said in a press conference: “I think New Jersey should be in that [internet gambling] business. I think we should be a epicenter for that business, but I want to do it right. I do not want to rush and get legalization that either doesn’t pass state constitutional muster, or creates other problems for us.”