New Jersey Governor has “Great Personal Interest” in Online Gambling Bill
Governor Chris Christie said during a press conference on Monday he has “a great personal interest” in regulated online gambling in the state of New Jersey.
Despite attempts by Senator Lesniak to push legislation forward, the state has yet to pass a bill and the Governor has blocked an attempt in the past. The statement today is further indication that progress is being made.
Christie’s staff, including his chief of staff Kevin O’Dowd, have had recent “positive meetings” on the topic with members of the legislature. “We had a very good meeting with Senator Lesniak last week,” the Governor remarked. “He is working hard with us and I appreciate his hard work.“
If Christie’s staff is able to come to an agreement with the legislators working on the bill it will likely be presented to the Governor to gauge his acceptance of the details. “I’m sure they will bring something to me to see if it something I would sign if it was passed by the legislature,” he notes.
Lesniak sponsored the bill that Cristie vetoed last year and, in July, he sent a letter to the DOJ challenging the position of US Senators Reid and Kyl. The Senators had authored a letter to the DOJ asking it to “reiterate the Department’s longstanding position that federal law prohibits gambling over the Internet, including intra-state gambling (e.g., lotteries).”
“Hopefully we can get to a point where we can overcome some of the concerns I had when the bill was passed before and I issued a conditional veto,” the Governor noted. “Well see where we get to.”
After the DOJ responded with an opinion released in December stating that the Wire Act “is limited only to sports betting,” the topic of online gambling quickly regained attention in New Jersey.
In January, Governor Christie said, “I think New Jersey should be in that business. I think we should be an epicenter for that business.” Following those remarks, State Senators Lesniak and Whelan introduced bill S1565 which would regulate online gambling in New Jersey if passed into law.
On the issue of whether an amendment to existing state law will be needed going forward, Christie responded, “I’ll take advice from the Attorney General on that.”
Further discussions on the bill are scheduled for this afternoon during the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Meeting.