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Dead on Arrival: New Jersey Internet Gambling Bill Will Require Override

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Mar/03/2011
New Jersey Internet Gambling Bill

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie issued an “absolute veto” in regard to legalized Internet gambling in the state.  An official government press release was issued later in the afternoon Wednesday.  So what does it all mean?

*Returns Senate Bill Without Approval

*Wants State Voters to Decide in November Whether Internet Gambling Should Come to New Jersey

*Absolute Veto requires “over riding” of the veto.  State Senator Raymond Lesniak of New Jersey, who co-sponsored the bill, has said already he would not override any veto from the Governor. A bill vetoed in this manner cannot become law unless the Legislature overrides the veto by a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of each house.

*There was extreme confusion leading up to the offical press release.  Initially, the veto was supposed to have been a "conditional" one in which the state legislature would be able to make necessary amendments, then return the bill to Christie for a signature within 10 days of receipt. The bill was S490 and earlier in the day was posted as a "conditional veto" then changed over to "absolute veto".  It was not immediately clear what caused this confusion. 

The press release appears below.

Citing both the inconsistency with his administration’s commitment to revitalizing the gaming and tourism industries in Atlantic City and legal concerns with the legislation, Governor Chris Christie today issued an absolute veto of S-490, a bill designed to permit internet wagering.

“Casino gaming is a vital component of the State’s economy and one of our most important industries, generating billions in revenues and providing tens of thousands of jobs. Since the earliest days of my Administration, I have stressed the urgent need to address the critical issues surrounding the casino industry in order to reinvigorate this sector of our economy and ensure its long-term sustainability,” said Governor Christie. “In partnership with the Legislature, we have achieved meaningful reforms that provide the impetus for new investment and increased tourism that will lead Atlantic City to recapturing its status as the premier resort destination in our region of the nation.”

In his veto message, Governor Christie recognized as laudable the intent of the bill to make New Jersey a more competitive gaming jurisdiction, but also cited numerous concerns with the legislation as it relates to the administration’s stated policy objectives and the New Jersey State Constitution, including potential allowance of gambling outside of Atlantic City’s borders and the continuation of a public subsidy for horseracing, respectively.

“I wholeheartedly support the intentions of the Legislature to make New Jersey a more competitive gaming jurisdiction. However, I do not believe that Internet gambling as contemplated in S-490 is a viable option for continuing the progress that we have made so far in reversing the fortunes of the casino industry in New Jersey.”

A copy of the Governor’s absolute veto can be found in the PDF attachment to this release.

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