An insider to the Atlantic City scene has tweeted that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is mulling over whether to conditionally veto the online gambling bill.
Roger Gros, Global Gaming Business publisher, tweeted
Sources in NJ tell me Gov. Christie considering a “conditional” veto of online bill. But only because Dems are blocking his other plans.
There has been no official confirmation of this, but it does make for interesting speculation, according to NorthJersey.com.
Christie currently has until Feb. 7 to sign or veto the online gambling bill that the New Jersey Senate approved by a 33-3 margin just prior to Christmas. His other options are to do nothing, which would allow the bill to become law, or to veto the bill and propose certain amendments or conditions. Should the legislature make the necessary changes as proposed by the governor, the bill would then go back to Christie for his perusal and signature.
If the report is accurate, it naturally leads one to wonder just what the conditions or amendments that Christie is proposing might be. One train of thought is that Christie may want to remove the “online gambling” facet of the bill and instead make it an “online poker” bill. Nevada’s existing law is poker-only and California is proposing poker-only legislation, as well.
Christie has gone on record as saying that a broad online gambling bill might dissuade gamblers from traveling to Atlantic City casinos. The governor is also concerned that too many New Jersey residents would fall victim to gambling addiction if all casino games were lawful online. By modifying the current proposal to online poker legalization only, this might satisfy Christie’s issues with the bill.
Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas recently met with one of Christie’s senior staff members to lobby for the online gambling bill. He specifically addressed Christie’s concerns and pointed out that it is much easier to notice and keep track of problem gamblers online where each log in and transaction is recorded. Pappas also stated that casinos could host poker satellite tournaments online, with the winners transitioning to live events held in Atlantic City.
The PPA supports the current bill that sits on Christie’s desk since it does include online poker. However, the organization’s real preference is for a poker-only bill similar to the federal Reid-Kyl bill that would not include all casino games. Perhaps the PPA’s lobbying efforts did not fall upon deaf ears with Christie’s senior staff member, who relayed the information to the governor. Time will tell if Christie’s conditional veto requires the online gambling bill in New Jersey to be modified to poker-only. We will know for sure by Feb. 7 at the latest.