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Don't Bet On Internet Gaming Bill In New Jersey, Garden State Lawmaker Says

According To NJ Sen. Ray Lesniak, No Indication On Governor's Feelings


Sen. Ray Lesniak. Credit:

New Jersey Sen. Ray Lesniak isn’t betting on his online gambling bill.

The Democratic lawmaker, arguably the state’s leading supporter of the issue, told Card Player Monday that it’s really up in the air on what Gov. Chris Christie will do with the bill that’s currently in his hands. The proposal sped through the legislature last month, as Lesniak had predicted.

Lesniak added that if Christie “holds true to form,” he won’t make a decision until the last minute. The Republican governor has until Feb. 4 — just two more weeks — to act.

According to Lesniak, there’s a “dark cloud over Atlantic City,” which has had its casino industry decline sharply since 2006. Hurricane Sandy further washed away business.

Gaming revenues in the city were as high as $5.2 billion in 2006, while this past calendar year had a comparatively disappointing $3.05 billion in casino win.

If Christie vetoes the proposal, that’s likely it for trying to legalize Internet gambling during his time in office, Lesniak said. Displeased lawmakers would have to “make sure someone else gets elected in November.” In other words, no more Christie.

“You only bang your head up against the wall so many times,” Lesniak said.

However, according to Lesniak, it would be difficult to get a new governor anytime soon. He said that Christie’s approval rating is through the roof at the moment.

Right now, the power is in Christie’s hands, and there is no indication as to which way he’s leaning. He did veto a similar proposal in 2011, but that was then and this is now.

Since the veto, Atlantic City has continued to “bleed red ink,” as Lesniak puts it, Nevada has made more strides toward its own online gaming industry, which Lesniak wants to keep pace with, and the federal government has made it clear that intrastate web wagering, as long as it’s not on sporting events, is permissible under federal law.

Poker players, lawmakers and gaming firms, including PokerStars, are waiting to see if the aforementioned will make a difference or if Christie will find another wrinkle in the proposal.

If vetoed, Lesniak anticipates some casino closures in Atlantic City. The other ray of hope would be Lesniak’s efforts to bring brick-and-mortar sports betting to the Garden State, but he said that it’s unclear what the courts will decide with regards to that matter.



8 years ago

Christie would be a fool to veto this bill. He has to secure NJ future in gaming before New York gets their casinos up and running and with neighboring Maryland approve for gambling NJ will be for bottom feeders.