New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has the final decision on whether the Garden state legalizes online gambling. The bill contains a provision that all online gambling operators must house their servers in licensed Atlantic City casinos, a provision that Christie says is vital to uphold the constitution. However, the Governor has had over a month to endorse the legislation but remains uncommitted – prompting Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Director John Pappas to lobby the Governor’s staff.
The New Jersey legislature passed the draft online gambling bill around the Christmas Holidays, which lawmakers say is crucial to Atlantic City’s revival. The bill was sent to Christie’s desk for a signature or a veto, but the Governor has yet to make any decision – and the deadline is set at February 4. Online casino and poker advocates worry Christie’s delaying tactics mean he will veto the legislation. They cite similar legislation that was passed in 2011, which Christie waited until the deadline to ultimately veto.
Hoping to prevent history from repeating itself, PPA Director John Pappas met with a senior member of Christie’s staff in order to convince the Governor to sign the legislation into law. Pappas addressed Christie’s suggestion that online gambling would increase addictive behaviour by suggesting problem gambling already exists in Atlantic City casinos, whereas online casinos monitor how often players log on and how much they have gambled.
Christie also feels online gambling would actually take more business away from Atlantic City casinos, thereby defeating the purpose of the legislation. Pappas countered once again stating that qualifying poker tournaments could be held online, and the winners could come to Atlantic City to participate in championship matches. Pappas says if PokerStars, which has offered to buy the Atlantic Club casino, is given approval for the purchase – this type of tournament could easily be arranged.
“I definitely think the meeting went very well because we were given a great deal of latitude to expand on our two key points.”
Pappas says he was assured Christie hasn’t made a decision yet, and feels the meeting addresses the Governor’s concerns to officially endorse online gambling.