Despite recent reports that Gov. Chris Christie may be wavering in his support for Internet gambling in New Jersey, the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee approved an online gambling bill on Thursday.
Bill A2578 now will move to a full floor vote along with a companion bill, S1565, which was approved by a Senate committee in April. New Jersey lawmakers, led by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, are still attempting to compete with Nevada in being the first state to legally offer online poker and gambling on an intrastate basis.
“We want to take the lead,” Lesniak said. “We don’t want Nevada to take the lead.” Lesniak added that state coffers would have been $200 million richer had Christie not vetoed a similar bill in 2011, eGaming Review reported.
But Garden State legislators may again be thwarted by Christie, who is rumored to have political ambitions beyond his current role as governor. His name has been tossed around as a possible vice-presidential candidate alongside Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Christie had said just a few months ago that he was in favor of online gambling provided that the Internet servers were located in Atlantic City. However, rumors are now circulating that he will delay any such decision until after the presidential election.
Part of the reason may be due to Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson, who is a huge contributor to the Republican party and has outspokenly denounced online gambling as being not in the best interests of Americans. Romney also made known his stance against online gambling in February.
It is unclear whether Christie will do what is right for his state or allow his political career to get in the way of approving online gambling in New Jersey. Sen. Lesniak, who has the backing of the Casino Association of New Jersey, as well as a good portion of his constituency, appears adamant about getting his proposal approved.