New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Not Sure If Online Poker 'Will Help Atlantic City'
Top Lawmaker Addresses Issue On 'Ask The Governor' Radio Show
In a radio appearance Tuesday night, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered up some sobering words for those hoping for online poker in the Garden State.
When a caller asked him about the Internet gambling bill currently in his hands, Christie said he hasn’t “made a final decision yet” but that he’s “concerned” about whether the activity will actually help Atlantic City casinos, as well as more problem gambling.
Some are worried that brick-and-mortar traffic could be hurt by the games going online. Others argue the web games would compliment, promote, strengthen and so on, the games which take place in the live setting. Some cite widespread, although not exactly legal, U.S. online poker in the past bringing more action to the brick-and-mortar card rooms.
If Christie’s concern holds water, then casino firms and their technology partners might have better revenues, but jobs for those lower on the socioeconomic ladder could be lost.
“I’m concerned that it may drive traffic away from Atlantic City — that if people can gamble in their own homes on their laptops, why are they going to go to Atlantic City? And I think it’s contrary to what we’re trying to accomplish there,” Christie said.
As John Brennan pointed out in a blog post on Christie’s comments, the concern over whether the bill would benefit Atlantic City casino operators could be more complex. It’s reportedly not 100 percent guaranteed that Atlantic City would retain its monopoly on gambling if Internet gaming was authorized in the Garden State. Lawmakers don’t want “Internet cafes.”
With regards to problem gambling, Christie remarked:
“I’m also really concerned about setting up a whole new generation of addicted gamblers. You know, if you can sit on the edge on your bed on your laptop and gamble away the paycheck — that’s a lot different than making the decision to go down to Atlantic City.”
Those two points of Internet gambling criticism have long been debated by people with varying levels of support for or opposition to the idea of casino games on the web. Christie’s concerns have never been truly refuted or legitimized.
The bill currently sitting on the governor’s desk would keep the games intrastate, but they could eventually spill over to other jurisdictions should deals be brokered that fell into compliance with all applicable laws. Nevada has started looking at such partnerships.
The author of the legislation told Card Player this week that he wouldn’t bet for or against a Christie signature. He has until Feb. 4 to make a decision, though Christie said Tuesday that he will decide “in the next couple of days.”
Here’s the video of Christie’s response. It begins at 44:40.
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