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Governor Christie position on gaming unknown as latest New Jersey bill goes to committee

TAGs: Governor Chris Christie, Senator Raymond Lesniak

christie new jerseyNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie is reportedly sending out mixed signals on whether the state’s Internet gaming industry will open up soon or not. Philly.com are reporting comments made by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) regarding certain political donations that might go missing should he decide to allow gaming online.

“Christie is putting the future of A.C. in jeopardy because of his overriding concern for support from [Sheldon] Adelson, a right-wing money machine of Newt Gingrich and right-wing causes; Caesars, a huge contributor based in Nevada; and Woody Johnson, Jets owner and NFL opponent of sports gaming,” said Lesniak in an email sent after a meeting with key Christie staff.

Closer to gambling’s home in New Jersey is Chris A. Brown (R-Atlantic City) who contradicted Lesniak’s comments, saying: “It is my understanding that Gov. Christie supports intrastate Internet gaming. Namely, he wants to make sure we get it right.

“Obviously, this is a great opportunity for New Jersey to create new jobs and new economic activity.”

Many will point to this simply being a case of political mudslinging as the two sides of this debate are from America’s largest political establishments. It would be no surprise were the legislation to be delayed until after this November’s election. Delays will impact on the state losing the first-mover advantage and IMEGA’s Joe Brennan Jr was only too clear as to what effect this would have.

“One of the ways to recapture this [gaming] revenue going across state lines is to offer it online in-state as a competing product. If New Jersey continues to lag in passing this legislation, they’re giving up the opportunity to become the Silicon Valley of the online gaming industry in the United States.”

The longer this bill takes to pass the longer, in the view of some, the decline of Atlantic City’s casino business will last. In an election year it could be that it’s delayed until 2013 and how damaging an effect that will have is currently unclear.

Another bill is in the pipeline that would see Internet wagering allowed at Atlantic City casinos. John J. Buzichello, Vincent Prieto and Ruben J. Ramos Jr. sponsor A2578 and it would allow patrons to play a number of games inside venues. Chris Krafcik from Gambling Compliance explained in a tweet: “For perspective, S1565, the Senate companion to A2578, has already passed the Senate Budget and Gaming Committees. #NewJersey #gambling”. The new bill will be heard on Thursday at 10am ET by the Assembly Gaming Committee.

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