New Jersey Bill Defeated: A Setback for Poker
This past week, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, vetoed a bill that would allow for in-state online poker. The bill resoundingly passed the New Jersey Congress by wide margins (margins so wide it could override a veto if voted upon again).
New Jersey passing this law would have likely caused other states to do the same. State governments are like dogs; when one starts barking, the others think 'oh, there must be something to bark about' so they bark too. Sometimes it is stupid stuff like the Arizona immigration law. There are now copycat laws proposed in over two dozen states mimicking the Arizona law. In poker's case, if New Jersey passed intra-state online poker, others would think 'oh, this is a good idea to close the budget gap' and would pass one too. It would not be as good as Harry Reid's bill passing at the Federal level, but it's something.
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Christie vetoing the law is a huge setback in this regard. At first glance, my instinct was that Christie was more in the pockets of social conservatives than I thought. Though, when giving reasons for his veto, he didn't cite general anti-gambling gibberish. In New Jersey, gambling is currently only allowed in Atlantic City. There have been laws/public measures voted down that would expand gambling through the entire state. The law, as written, would claim all bets 'originated' in Atlantic City, but it's pretty easy to understand the point that the bets 'originate' throughout the state with this bill. This was the crux of the reason behind Christie's veto, and quite frankly, it's not without merit. Christie also was against that the revenues went to help the ailing horse racing industry, which is a fair point. Why should online poker tax revenues go to horse racing companies?
Proponents of the bill have said they will try to fix the bill and get it passed again. If need be, put it to the voters and let them decide. Christie is open to that, and it seems a fair and unambiguous way to allow gambling to expand out of Atlantic City in just electronic poker form.
I've always thought the best state to initiate this sort of bill is California. Poker is legal throughout the state there, so there is no 'expanding gambling outside of a certain area' issue with a bill. They also have a pressing need for more tax revenues. California is also the largest state in the union (population wise), so this would bring online poker to a lot of Americans quickly. The governor is also a Democrat, and while I'm no Jerry Brown fan, we don't have to worry he suddenly needs Sarah Palin's endorsement to run against Obama in the 2012 election.