Chris Christie on Legalizing Web Poker: ‘A Critical Decision’

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Chris Christie on Legalizing Web Poker: ‘A Critical Decision’

Speaking to John Brennan of Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had this to say regarding his decision to legalize Web gamblnig in the Garden State: “This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly."

Christie, who had sat on previous bills up to the final hours, signed this third reincarnation within minutes of it hitting his desk.

The Governor did say last week he would sign the bill immediately provided language was changed to allow for increased taxation and a 10-year trial period.

This isn’t just a law allowing New Jersey’s nearly 9 million people to place bets or play poker online, millions more from two of the biggest US cities – New York and Philadelphia - can now access Web gambling sites by simply crossing over either the Delaware or Hudson Rivers. 

For now, New Jersey will only permit intrastate online gambling and one must log on from within the state.  Lawmakers will eventually look to form compacts with other states and may even allow players from other countries where such activity is already legalized (i.e. Great Britain). 

This will take some time, however, as no site has yet been granted a license to operate in New Jersey.  The world’s biggest real money poker site, PokerStars, is already in the process of buying the former Atlantic City Hilton Hotel and Casino and is widely expected to host internationally targeted tournaments in the struggling gambling destination. 

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Likewise, it is accepted belief that some of the world’s better-known poker pros could ultimately rent or purchase apartments in either Manhattan or Philadelphia to gain better access to legalized online poker in the US. To date, only Nevada and Delaware have legalized the activity, though neither has a sustainable population to support a viable poker player pool. 

“New Jersey’s population may be around 9 million,” observed Payton O’Brien, who heads up the website.  “New York City alone has nearly the same population with another couple million in the surrounding region outside of New Jersey.  Philadelphia has a population of 1.5 million.  So basically, legalized Web gambling in the state of New Jersey can actually tap into a population of 20 million plus, which is about the population of Australia.”

New Jersey State Sen. James Whelan, D-Atlantic, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that the votes will save about 3,500 jobs being that PokerStars will now be more inclined to move forward with its acquisition of what is now the Atlantic Club Hotel.

“This is a jobs bill, plain and simple,” Whelan said.

- Chris Costigan, Publisher

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