With the 4th of February approaching stakeholders are holding their breath in anticipation of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision. That is the deadline for him to sign or veto the online gambling bill, which virtually flew through the state’s legislature a month ago.
Eastern Seaboard gambling hub Atlantic City has been struggling for the last couple of years and that has had an impact on state revenues as well. Supporters of the bill point to the example of several other states moving towards legalized online gambling, since US gambling laws do not prohibit such activities within individual states.
Unless it involves sporting events: any sort of sports betting, including Internet betting is illegal in the US, with the exception of four states.
Chief proponent of the bill, state senator Ray Lesniak believes that the final decision can not be predicted. While Gov. Christie vetoed a similar bill before, the continued downward trend that characterizes the New Jersey’s gambling industry may lead to a different choice this time.
Clearly, the Governor does not want to have the legalization of online gambling on his political record, but casino closures and the subsequent loss of jobs would not benefit him either. A decision is therefore not expected until the last minute.
Another factor with possible impact on the issue is this week’s intervention by the federal government to block New Jersey efforts towards legalizing sports betting, on top of a court challenge already underway by the sports leagues. If the state fails to overcome this obstacle then online gambling may remain the only way to save its casino industry.
If, on the other hand, the bill is vetoed, then NJ gamers waiting for the legal possibility to play online poker in the US would have to wait for many more years to come.