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New Jersey Gambling Bill Vetoed

Legislation, 2011-03-03, by Ozone

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed a bill that would have created the first legal online gaming in the U.S. The bill would have allowed New Jersey residents to gamble online through websites ran by Atlantic City casino companies. In January, the bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate and Assembly by votes of 34-2 and 63-11, respectively, and needed only Christie's signature and to become law.

In his veto message, Governor Christie said he had a number of "significant concerns" about the bill. One of those concerns involves the bill's chances of withstanding a constitutional test. To that end, Christie stated: "In my view, the creation of a legal fiction deeming all wagers to have 'originated' in Atlantic City cannot overcome the clear and unambiguous language of the State Constitution."

The Wall Street Journal reported that a recent poll of New Jersey residents showed 67% are opposed to Internet gambling which could be an additional reason why Christie vetoed the bill. "If the Legislature believes that expanding gambling outside of Atlantic City is in the best interests of the State of New Jersey, it should place the question on the ballot for the voters to decide," Christie said.

Another potential reason behind the veto was pressure from Caesars Entertainment, owners and operators of the World Series of Poker and four Atlantic City casinos, who opposed this bill because of a preference for federal online gaming legislation, not a state-by-state approach. "We've always felt that the first focus should be trying to enact federal legislation," said Jan Jones, senior vice president of communications and government relations for Caesars.

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