New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told a caller on the "Ask the Governor" radio program Tuesday evening that he had some reservations about signing a bill that would permit the Garden State to offer online gambling.
Internet gambling legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the New Jersey state legislature last month and now awaits only Christie's signature to become law. However, the governor was forthright in expressing his concerns over the bill, NorthJersey.com reported.
Christie's first dilemma is that he isn't convinced that the bill will help New Jersey's floundering casino industry. Revenue at Atlantic City casinos tumbled 8% last year from 2011 totals and has seen steady declines for six straight years following a peak in 2006 of $5.2 billion. One of Christie's goals while in office is to stabilize the faltering Atlantic City casinos and if he doesn't think online gambling can achieve that aim, he may use his veto stamp once again.
"If people can gamble in their own homes on their laptops, why are they going to go to Atlantic City?" Christie told radio caller 'Joseph.' "And I think it’s contrary to what we’re trying to accomplish there."
The governor's second concern involves the problem of gambling addiction. Christie believes that legal online wagering may make it too easy for those with the inability to control their betting to fall into the throes of destructive gambling behavior.
"I’m also really concerned about setting up a whole new generation of addicted gamblers," Christie said. "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 to gamble in a casino."
Christie admitted that he read the bill over the weekend and has considered recommendations from his staff. He continues to weigh the pros and cons and has about 10 more days in which to make his decision. Past history tells us that his decision will likely come down to the wire on Feb. 4, as he waited until almost the last minute in vetoing a similar bill in 2011.
Christie's comments certainly don't sound promising for those hoping that he will sign the bill into law. That includes New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the bill's most ardent supporter who also sponsored the bill that Christie vetoed in 2011. Lesniak has hinted that he will push for no more online gambling bills while Christie is in office if the governor elects to veto this bill once again.