Time Ticking in New Jersey as Christie Does not yet Take Action on Internet Gambling Bill

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Mar/01/2011
Internet gambling New Jersey

Thursday March 4, 2011 at the stroke of midnight Internet gambling could become legalized in the state of New Jersey.  It would be the first US state to do so. 

Governor Chris Christie has until that time to veto or sign off on a bill that could bring a much needed $28 million – if not more – to his state yearly.  It’s not just the millions of dollars, it’s the many new jobs that will ultimately be created.

Christie’s lack of response – which would result in the bill automatically becoming law should he maintain the status quo over the next crucial 48 hours – seems to jive with his current tatements on the subject of legalization. 

"At this time, given the unprecedented economic crisis and other challenges facing the state, the governor has determined that the state’s limited resources would be better utilized by focusing on other, more immediate issues facing the citizens of New Jersey," a spokesperson for the Governor stated late this past year. 

Since that time, the state assembly overwhelmingly passed the measure while a recent poll indicates that 53 percent of the 801 registered voters surveyed believe people should be allowed to bet on sports such as football and basketball.

Even more telling perhaps, just one week after Christie made his proclamation that “legalized Internet gambling in the Garden State is not a priority”, he announced ambitious plans to overhaul Atlantic City through a state takeover and proposed to privatize the money-losing Izod Center and the Meadowlands Racetrack.  His move seemingly acknowledges the importance of revenue generated for the state via gambling venues. 

Worldwide online gambling is already a multi-billion dollar industry.  Much of the Web gambling market is based out of the US despite the legal quagmire and operators unable to run their businesses stateside.  The benefits have already been realized in Costa Rica, the hub of Internet gambling activity targeting Americans.  Over 5000 jobs were created over the past 10 years directly from the industry.  Countless other industries such as retail, communications, technology have benefitted immensely. 

Ironically, it was the US Government in July of 2006 that helped crush a good chunk of job growth and retail success in Costa Rica when they forced the shut down of then the largest online sports betting operation to operate in that Central American nation, BetOnSports.

BoS as it was often called operated out of the modernized Mall San Pedro.  Because its 1000 plus employees enjoyed wages above the national standard, the mall itself benefitted from an influx of college educated bet-takers, graphic designers, marketers, security personnel, as well as the well paid executive team.  Following its shutdown, the mall is said to have lost more than half its average sales. 

The industry played a vital role in building Costa Rica’s telecommunications infrastructure.  While some have said the sports betting sector in Costa Rica operates mostly in the shadows, in reality these business are quite easy to find….just look for the massive satellite dishes adorning buildings. 

Gambling911.com just returned from Costa Rica where we dined at a handful of restaurants owned by current or former gambling site operators. 

One of the country’s biggest television stations featured a news story on BetOnSports in 2001 whereby they noted – thanks to the online gambling/call center sector (mostly sports betting at the time) and its generous pay scale, this was the first generation that could afford a brand new car.  In case you were wondering, new cars are more expensive in Costa Rica than comparable models available in the States.  This is due to high import duties. 

Governor Christie may elect to do nothing, and he has that option. 

There are concerns being addressed.  Among them, fear of attempts at the federal level to fight any new law, pressure from corporate gambling firms that do business in the state like Caesar’s Entertainment that want online gambling based in Las Vegas where they may have an upper hand as opposed to their – some would say – weaker competitors in Atlantic City, and there are always the objections from fellow Conservative Republicans who deem the industry as “detrimental to America’s youth”.  

Christie could simply say he never supported the legislation while pointing to the 53 percent state residents who do along with the Assembly, which helped send the measure to his desk. 

Here are some things to consider in the next two days:  Christie will have his hands full dealing with Senate Democrats who are looking to override Christie’s previously vetoed vetoes 11 bills designed to create jobs and spur economic growth. 

- Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher  

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