Thursday, November 3, 2011 : Christie will engage with Sen. Lesniak on the way forward in the event of a positive vote
Interest is building in November 8's New Jersey referendum on legalised sports betting in Atlantic City casinos and at New Jersey racetracks, and this week Governor Chris Christie indicated that he would respect the vote of the people on the issue.
The governor infamously vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have legalised intrastate online gambling, despite the overwhelming support the measure had achieved in the Legislature.
Speaking during an appearance in Jersey City, Christie said he supports a referendum on next week's ballot asking voters whether they want to make sports betting legal, if a federal ban on it is ever lifted.
Christie opined that it is naive to think illicit betting isn't going on, and said it was probably time to get sports betting out from the shadows and make it legal.
“Let’s get that economy up from underground,” he said. “Let’s have the people who benefit from it be the people of the state of New Jersey, not individuals involved in organized crime. With this referendum we have an opportunity that gives the state more solid footing to challenge the federal ban on sports wagering outside of a few select places.
“If it fails, obviously I won’t have any interest in pursuing it.”
The governor said Wednesday it's not fair that legalised sports betting should be limited to just a few states and believes it's important for New Jersey to have it.
"The fact is now gaming is everywhere in many states across the country, so there's no reason why sports gaming in my view should be restricted," he said.
Christie added that should a positive vote be recorded, he is prepared to work with long-time online gambling legalization advocate, Sen. Ray Lesniak, to "implement the will of the people."
Recent Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind polls have shown that there is strong support for the sports betting concept, although some observers have expressed fears that the ballot question has not received sufficient public exposure, resulting in many state voters lacking knowledge or awareness of the project.
They point to a poll three weeks ago that found that only 11 percent of voters had heard "a great deal" about the issue, while 40 percent had heard nothing at all about it. The rest were evenly split between "some" and "just a little."