The New York Post is reporting that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie intends to veto legislation that would allow online instrastate casino and poker betting via Atlantic City’s land-based casinos. Officially, Christie has until Feb. 24 to decide whether to sign or veto the bill, but because the legislature is in recess until March 4, Christie has a little more time to mull his options. If Christie fails to act either way, the bill would automatically become law.
Some outside observers, including the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) chairman John Brennan, are questioning the veracity of the Post’s report. Brennan told Poker News Daily that iMEGA reps “just met with the Governor’s office yesterday and they didn’t indicate anything like this.” Brennan went on to say that he thinks the report is “not indicative of anything going on.”
Christie’s mind is said to have been made up after intense lobbying pressure from Caesar’s Entertainment, which has a casino presence in Atlantic City, and therefore stands to benefit from the bill’s passage. However, the Post claims that Caesar’s people are concerned that any pro-online gaming movement at the state level would interfere with efforts to achieve the equivalent at the Federal level.
Another theory suggested in the Post is that Christie is concerned that he might find himself fighting the Feds in court over concerns that out of state residents would find methods of gaming the system, such as wiring money to Garden Staters who’ve registered with AC’s casinos, essentially using the NJ residents as ghosts, mules, proxies – however you wish to classify it.
The real head scratcher in this situation is state Sen. Ray Lesniak’s alleged comments to the Post that he wouldn’t try to override Christie’s veto. Frankly, this makes no sense. Lesniak has been this piece of legislation’s biggest champion, and now he’s just going to say, ‘aw, gee, shucks… too bad… pass the nuts, would you?” It stands in direct contrast to Lesniak’s comment just two weeks prior, in which he said he was “very concerned that [Christie] will give in to [Caesar’s] corporate interests.”
In order for Lesniak to override Christie’s veto, a 2/3 majority in both legislative bodies would be required. The bill passed by a 29-5 margin in the Senate and a 63-11 vote in the Assembly, so Lesniak already has all the ammunition he needs to pull the trigger. Why then is he turning the gun around and pointing it at his own head?
Like we said, this makes no logical sense. Which leads us to all sorts of wild speculation in order to come up with something that does make sense. Christie is often mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for president. Is vetoing the bill his method of shoring up his support among social conservatives, who hate gambling as much as they hate Hawaiian birth certificates? Or have Christie and Lesniak entered into a backroom deal whereby Christie kills the bill in exchange for passing another one in which Lesniak has a bigger stake – like say, the affordable housing bill that Christie vetoed earlier this year?
The latest infusion of federal stimulus money is scheduled to run out soon. Tea Party favorite Christie likes to brag about not needing federal handouts, but perhaps the state’s dire financial situation convinced both he and Lesniak that their books need stimulating? If you’re planning on asking your federal sugar daddy for a little walking around money, you probably wouldn’t want to do anything that would be seen as rubbing the federal Dept. of Justice’s nose in it, now would you?
Or, if you really want to get conspiratorial, does Caesar’s have nude photos of Christie, Lesniak, and/or Christie and Lesniak nude together, if you know what we mean? (We haven’t seen Christie with his shirt off, but we’re assuming he’s a ‘bear’.) Or is the New York Post simply out to fucking lunch on this one?