New Jersey Internet Gambling Bill Vetoed

New Jersey Governor Chris ChristieOn Thursday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed an internet gambling bill that would have allowed New Jersey to become the first state in the U.S. to regulate and legalize online poker.

State Senator Raymond Lesniak introduced the bill but came out and said he saw no signs of the bill being revived any time soon. Lesniak blamed the casino giant Caesars Entertainment, formally known as Harrah’s Casino, which also owns the rights to the World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas, for the influence they had on the governor’s decision, as they were heavily opposed to the bill.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a Caesars Entertainment representative as saying, “We’ve always felt that the first focus should be trying to enact Federal legislation.”

Efforts at constructing a federal internet gambling framework had been stalled during the last Congress and have not yet been revisited. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), a nonprofit group formed to speak on behalf and to protect poker players, were concerned that the New Jersey internet gambling bill would encourage fragmentation of online poker in the United Staes, which could potentially result in lowering player liquidities.

The WSJ also added the internet gambling bill’s effects were not completely understood, saying: “A nonpartisan legislative office in New Jersey said it could not estimate how much economic activity internet gaming would generate because of a lack of data on New Jersey residents’ online gambling habits. It also said the bill could prompt Atlantic City visitors to stay home and gamble from their laptops – or draw in new customers.”

The New Jersey bill would have allowed for the creation of web-based hubs in Atlantic City casinos, including Caesars Entertainment casino properties, to provide legalized poker and casino games for New Jersey residents. Such a move would create a huge economic boost to the Atlantic City area, allegedly creating $250 million in state revenues and 57,000 jobs in the first year, according to estimates from the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association.

In response to the veto Sen. Lesniak said he would work to get new legislation to the governor’s desk, “We need to work as quickly as possible to bring this bill back to the Governor’s desk and position Atlantic City to become the Silicon Valley of the high-tech gaming sector. New Jersey can still become the first state in the nation to offer legalized internet wagering and, by leading the way, we position the Garden State to reap the benefits of getting in on the ground floor of a multi-million dollar market.”