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Becky’s Affiliated: The politics behind gambling in New Jersey, an insider’s opinion

TAGs: beckys affiliated, Editorial, new jersey gambling, Rebecca Liggero, Scott Neuman

The news coming out of New Jersey this year from a gambling industry front has been nothing short of a soap opera.  Between Governor Christie’s flip flop on allowing sports betting in the state and PokerStars’ dramatic battle for a license to operate, we just can’t get enough from New Jersey.

Becky’s Affiliated: The politics behind gambling in New Jersey, an insider’s opinionWhile the news is certainly interesting to follow, a lot of us are left wondering what is really going on behind the scenes. To try and get a little perspective, I spoke with long time New Jersey resident, Scott Neuman, who is currently running for the US House of Representatives in the 4th CD of New Jersey.

Neuman is a proponent of the gambling industry in his state, with a personal love for poker. Some of us might remember Neuman from 2005 when GoldenPalacePoker.com sponsored him for the Borgata Poker Open. For the bargain price of $10,000, Golden Palace bought the rights on eBay to advertise on Neuman’s cheek while he played. Mainly a tournament player, Neuman rarely plays cash games but he’s a big supporter of all forms of online poker in America.

In addition to supporting online poker and the greater gambling industry in New Jersey, Neuman is up-front, honest and not afraid to share his opinion, no matter how controversial it may be. The opportunity to ask him a few questions presented itself and I hope you enjoy his passionate and candid answers as much as I did.

Becky Liggero: Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions with me, Scott. Let’s start with your thoughts on how things are going in New Jersey from an online gambling perspective?

Scott Neuman: New Jersey is sadly, a pay for play state. Unless you pay the Governor, the Congressmen and Senators via their different organizations or pac’s, nothing is done in the favor of the people and the employment of those people.

Atlantic City’s Revel is an excellent example of pay for play. Everyone including the potential buyers might want a simple explanation why the power plant that powered the Revel was a separate legal entity when both are joined at the hip. There were reports that the power plant rates were as high as $100M a month to power the Revel. As a comparison, the Borgata owns the power plant and their rates aren’t even close. Who’s bright idea was that.

And it was amazing to most people that another Hedge Fund that owned the Atlantic Club blew out a potential employer by not allowing Poker Stars to come in as a white knight and buy the hotel and keep all those poor people employed and than shortly there after, the BK judge decided that other entities from Florida shouldn’t buy and keep it open either. That it should close and that was the best solution. For who??? the hard workers of Atlantic City and the surrounding area.

Let’s finish that off with Caesars hosing their own employees by closing the money making Showboat. Everyone knows Caesars made donations to the GOP Governors group or their associated pacs. 

Gambling will remain in NJ. It was amazing to see the 180 degree flip the Governor did on Sports betting where he proclaimed that it would be a direct violation of our state and federal laws to offer it. He’s never had a problem or his administration breaking election laws and not following legislative actions when it suits him so I’m not sure why the flip now. I’m assuming that happened after his meeting with Billionaire Adelson of Las Vegas. NJ is a gambling state and if it makes money for the major backers, it will come to NJ, like it will to the Meadowlands and Jersey City but it should be investors money, not the states money nor the taxpayers money that should be used.

BL: I can tell you feel strongly about this subject. Now that we actually have online gambling regulated in New Jersey, what can be done to help increase the online gambling revenue?

SN: The same things that made the online overseas rooms popular. Bigger tournament pots. I’d like to see all the states linked together and I’d like to see our government honor the World Courts rulings that our country has no business blocking online poker from the people of the USA. That means, if the companies can agree, linking the overseas poker rooms to the skins in the USA and making million dollar tournaments like before Black Friday.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise is the name of the game. Sponsorships of major sporting events are needed. 8 million poker players in the USA at last count. That’s a huge body of players that might want to play from the luxury of their easy chairs.

I’m not willing to toss out the baby with the bathwater and I expect online rooms to make sure the players are legal to play at their rooms. I don’t want kids playing on the system.

BL: Neither does Sheldon Adelson, apparently. So now we have the Pokerstars debate- what are your thoughts on Stars receiving a license to operate in NJ?

SN: How fast can that happen now that Amaya owns them. The old owners are done. The Corporate structure is a fresh, new group. I’d love them to open the Atlantic Club or even put up their own building. If we can allow MGM to come back to NJ after their relationship with Ma, we certainly can allow PokerStars. I can see hundreds of jobs created by Pokerstars. We need jobs!

BL: Agreed. Why do you think Chris Christie recently flip-flopped on his stance towards sportsbetting in New Jersey?

SN: Money, plan and simple. I’m sure you’ll see a huge donation in someone’s PAC for the 100% flip on his position towards sports betting.

I was stunned when he blew off Lesniak’s bill the last time around but he has no problems sticking a pipeline right through the Pine Barrens when it could go 21 miles around the Pine Barrens and save our ecosystems and create more jobs. There is a reason you don’t put a fuel tank in your living room and there is reason why the Pine Barrens commission voted against the pipeline. Now that they voted against, the Governor started removing the people that were there to protect our state and replacing them with YES men and women.

Governor Christie runs the government of NJ with its six credit downgrades like a very bad fund manager. He’s elected. He’s lucky. He would have been fired a long time ago with those results and the election ballot issues that he flaunts should have he and Guadagno removed for official misconduct (and still might). We have laws in place to protect our state. He ignores them if he feels like it. They don’t apply to him and if he is elected to President, nothing will change. I’m about what is right will never change. Who is wrong can be changed.

BL: What do you think of Senator Lesniak’s latest piece of legislation to bring legal sportsbetting to New Jersey- will it do the trick?

SN: It looks like it will do the trick now that Christie flipped. It was amazing to watch the original bill pass with maybe one person voting against it but when Christie vetoed it, Lesniak couldn’t get one single GOP elected official to vote to overturn the Veto. That couldn’t have been good for the people of NJ. We are in the land of political cults. No one goes against the cult leader or they get their heads chopped off. None of it is good for the people that live in NJ or the USA if this continues.

BL: No, it certainly is not. Do you have any final statements before we sign off?

SN: I look forward to online poker and representing the people of my district and look to up and running within days of winning the November 4th election for Congressman of the 4th CD of NJ.

BL: Thank you so much for your time today, I just love your fervor, Scott, and I wish you the best of luck with your candidacy. 

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