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March 3, 2011

With a Veto, N.J. Governor Stays Out of the Game

By: Ifrah Law

Today’s news is that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has just vetoed a bill, overwhelmingly passed by both houses of the state legislature, that would have made New Jersey the first state in the country to legalize online gaming.

The governor, who has been widely mentioned as a GOP presidential candidate for 2012, though he has disavowed such ambitions, said he had “legal and constitutional” issues with the bill.

As he explained it at a press conference, he isn’t opposed to legal online gambling in principle. He noted that the state’s voters approved gaming in Atlantic City alone in 1976, not statewide – and expressed concern that under the present bill, people could gamble all over the state in bars, hotels and Internet cafes. The fact that the computer servers are in Atlantic City wouldn’t satisfy the constitutional requirements, Christie said. He said that he’d rather put New Jersey’s horse racing industry on a sound footing on its own rather than use gaming revenue to subsidize it.

We are disappointed in Christie’s decision. It seems that he has placed his presidential ambitions and a misguided interest in the horse racing industry ahead of the best interests of New Jersey’s voters and residents. The state has missed out on an opportunity to be in the forefront of the nationwide movement towards legal online gaming and on a large chunk of revenue.

Now it appears that the District of Columbia may, to many people’s surprise, become the first U.S. jurisdiction to permit online gaming.