New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sure has a strange way of showing his purported love of online gambling legalization in the Garden State. The last couple of years has seen the rotund Republican slap down multiple attempts at legalizing online poker in New Jersey. Most recently, he vetoed the latest online poker package put forth by lawmakers in that state. It is beginning to appear that Christie has lost his “Approved” stamp, as he routinely turns down one online poker proposal after another. If that is the case, is there any way that this latest spurning be seen as a good thing?
Christie used a Conditional Veto this time, and that is really good news for the poker players of New Jersey. He has long since preached the positive power of online poker to drive revenue, create jobs and appease his gambling minded constituents. New Jerseyans love to gamble, as evidenced by their annual casino revenue rank of #3 in the US. So online gambling is headed to NJ one way or another, but Christie has to tread lightly for a number of reasons, premierly because he is an up-and-comer in Republican political circles. A run at the White House in 2016 is not out of the question, and that means getting this online poker passage perfect.
He rightfully feels he must appease Republican law makers, residents of New Jersey, as well as political pundits and national news makers. When he announced his Conditional Veto on Thursday, he made several positive statements about the current online poker package in its current form. And while he did send a lengthy 31 page document back to the lawmakers who propose online poker in New Jersey, many have noted that the changes he expects to see before he will approve the new proposal are minor. Senator Ray Lesniak is the sponsor of the bill, and he agreed that the conditions laid down by Governor Christie to ensure his signature are not very significant.
And actually, political analysts around the nation and in New Jersey agree that when legislators send the bill back to Christie with the needed changes, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that online poker will be a reality in that state. So just what did the “Governor so nice they named him twice” ask to be changed? He stressed that he needs to see a greater effort to combat problem gambling. He also expressed concerns about possible corruption and business misconduct, demanding stronger safeguards in those areas. The new business activity proposal currently stood at a 10 percent tax, and Christie wants 15 percent. Also, he believes a 10 year trial period is needed for online poker in New Jersey. However, he demanded no timetable on a resubmittal of the poker bill with these changes.
New Jersey recently dropped to the number three spot nationally in annual casino revenue, as Pennsylvania passed them after opening a dozen new brick-and-mortar casino destinations. The timing of that significant drop in revenue for the state certainly had a huge impact on Christie’s desire to increase the initial tax rate from 10 percent to 15 percent, and no doubt will help ensure that this next online poker proposal will be passed. Christie stated that such “a significant step must be carefully considered” and must balance job creation, the revitalization of Atlantic City and economic development, “while ensuring no corruption or improper influence.” With nearby Massachusetts joining Pennsylvania in ramping up their casino offerings, New Jersey could use the much needed revenue, and that state’s residents are definitely inclined to support NJ online gambling.