Ten reasons Christie should sign the N.J. online gambling bill

17 January 2011
The New Jersey legislature sent a bill that would regulate intrastate Internet gambling to Governor Chris Christie's desk last week, and the only obstacle keeping it from becoming law is the possibility of the governor's veto.

Last week, Casino City Managing Editor Vin Narayanan laid out all the reasons Christie might choose to veto the bill — which passed by veto-proof margins in both the Assembly and the Senate. Today, we lay out the top-10 reasons he should sign the bill into law.

10. Makes New Jersey a leader in an emerging industry
Nevada was the first state in the U.S. to regulate casino gambling, and Nevada is still the headquarters for many gaming corporations. If New Jersey becomes the first to regulate Internet gambling, high-powered executives will be living and working in the state, and it will become a hub for the industry if and when other states, or even the federal government, decide to join the fray and regulate the industry as well.

9. Jobs
Christie starts his second year on the job with the state facing a 9.0 percent unemployment rate. While that's down from 10.3 percent when he was inaugurated last year, it's still very high. An online gambling industry in New Jersey will create jobs — from customer service to information technology to executive-level positions. These positions will put more New Jersey residents back to work, and make a small dent in that unemployment number.

8. Revenue
Let's get down to brass tacks. According to H2 Gambling Capital, intrastate online gambling would net New Jersey $250 million in gross gaming revenue and $55 million in taxes on an annual basis. These revenues won't close the state's $10.5 billion budget deficit, but they're a start.

7. Gives Atlantic City a shot in the arm
Atlantic City used to be the destination for East Coast gamblers. But with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun opening and expanding in Connecticut over the past 25 years, and Pennsylvania and Delaware opening up casinos recently, Atlantic City has struggled to get gamblers in their doors. The possibility of linking loyalty programs between online and live casinos could give gamblers free rooms, meals and other perks in Atlantic City casinos, which might improve the foot traffic along the boardwalk.

6. Creates harmony with the legislature
Chris Christie didn't make many voters — or state legislators — very happy with some of the budget cuts he enacted last year, including $819 million in cuts in state aid to local schools. With more than 80 percent of the legislators voting to regulate intrastate Internet gambling, this bill would give Christie a chance to create good will between the branches of the state government.

5. Regulates an already thriving industry
There are already thousands of online gamblers in New Jersey who are playing on sites regulated by foreign countries. This bill would regulate sites with a brick and mortar presence in New Jersey, and the state will receive tax revenue on any profits the gaming companies realize, as well as tax revenue on any winnings by the players. As of right now, those taxes are not collected, and online winnings are not tracked or taxed.

4. Protects New Jersey residents
Most customers at large Internet gambling sites feel safe, but there have been incidents where players were cheated, or they lost their money when a site unexpectedly closed its doors. With gaming corporations in the state forced to answer to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, players who choose to gamble online will know that they are doing so in an environment that is safe, secure, and that they will be paid if they win.

3. Makes Atlantic City younger
If you walk around the casinos in Atlantic City, you'll see that the seats that are filled are generally filled by folks with gray hair — not that there's anything wrong with that! But gaming companies also want to make sure they're attracting a younger crowd. Studies have shown that Internet gamblers tend to be younger than their more veteran land-based counterparts. Once again, gaming corporations will have the opportunity to lure those younger players into brick and mortar casinos with incentives based on their loyalty programs. And if Atlantic City starts being seen as a place to be among younger people both inside and outside of the state's borders, it will be great for gaming revenue, great for employment, and great for the state overall.

2. Demonstrates his independence
As Vin pointed out in his piece last week, Christie has been talked about as a possible presidential hopeful. And while Vin believes that a signature on an Internet gambling bill might be a death knell among Christian conservatives, it would also give him some points among the libertarian wing of the party.

1. Makes him seem "younger"
If Christie does have national political ambitions, it will help his chances if he appears young by having a solid understanding of the Internet and technology. Because nothing makes you look older than a complete misunderstanding of the Internet.

Aaron Todd

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Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.