In a radio interview touching on a wide range of Garden State related topics, Gov. Christie declared that he had yet to make a decision regarding the intrastate online gaming bill sitting on his desk for judgement. However he also expressed some concern as to whether passing the bill for online gaming in New Jersey would actually help Atlantic City casinos, as its proponents claim.
“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.
Likewise, Christie feared the ease of online gaming could help further enable existing problem gamblers, and create a cadre of new ones.
“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” he stated.
The Governor’s radio remarks come a day after one of the leading proponents of the bill, Senator Ray Lesniak, told Card Player that it was really up in the air at this point as to which way the Governor would go, and that he would likely take until the last minute to decide. While Gov. Christie has until February 4 to make a decision on the bill, he did however state that he plans to do so within the next couple of days.
This is the not the first time a bill to legalize online gaming has been brought before Gov. Christie, but it will likely be the last. If struck down for a second time (he vetoed the previous bill brought before him in 2011), its proponents are likely to give up until a new Governor takes control of the state, which may not happen any time soon, as Christie currently enjoys great approval rates.
While it will be a sad day indeed for those who believe the passing of the bill will save some of Atlantic City’s casinos from closing in the future, the reality is that there is no clear evidence one way or the other either supporting or refuting the benefits of online gaming in New Jersey in regards to the local brick-and-mortar gaming scene. Which is exactly why the decision could go either way, and may go right down to the wire.