New Jersey Governor Vetoes Bill Which Would Have Legalized Sports Gambling
Updating a previous story, Governor Chris Christie voted legislation which would have allowed for sports wagering in New Jersey. If Christie had signed the bill into law, New Jersey would have been licensing activities in violation of federal gaming laws.
Christie vetoed the bill late on Friday, after deciding legal precedent and history was not on the side of New Jersey pursuing the case further. During the two years New Jersey was pursuing the lawsuit through appellate courts, Christie was criticized for wasting taxpayer money on the suit.
New Jersey Passed Bill by Heavy Margin
New Jersey’s political leaders were prepared to challenge the federal law back in 2012 when they first passed legislation to allow sports gambling at the casinos and racetracks in the state. This move was challenged when the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, and NCAA jointly filed a lawsuit against New Jersey. That case eventually was referred to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to listen to the arguments earlier this summer.
Christie’s office released a statement after vetoing the bill. In the press release, Governor Christie said he had given “a spirited legal effort” to change existing federal laws, but said he was not going to go along with any attempt to bypass the Supreme Court.
Does Not Want to Ignore Federal Law
The statement went on to say, “Ignoring federal law, rather than working to reform federal standards, is counter to our democratic traditions and inconsistent with the Constitutional values I have sworn to defend and protect.”
Earlier on this same issue, Chris Christie had seemed a great deal more defiant. At once, he said, “They said ‘No’, so we have to move on.” At the time, it seemed like that meant finding a way to circumvent the current Profession and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Now, it appears those words were a great deal more ambivalent.
2016 Presidential Politics
The New Jersey governor is considering a run for U.S. president in 2016. Defying federal law while wanting to be the chief executor of that same law would be hard to reconcile. While Chris Christie no doubt believes the words he wrote on the rule of law, his political aspirations are tied into playing within the system.
Imagine a presidential debate–whether against Republicans in the primaries or Democrats in the general election–in which Christie had defied the US gaming laws. His debate opponents could return to that theme time and time again, using it to make the governor appear unworthy of the position. With the Bridgegate Scandal and his moderate Republican credentials, Christie is likely to find it hard going to win the nomination, despite polls showing him the early frontrunners among GOP candidates. The problem is, the early frontrunner seldom wins the nomination these days, because he or she becomes a big target that all the other candidates shoot at.
Ralph Caputo Disappointed in the Governor
Ralph Caputo, one of the sponsors of the bill Christie just vetoed, said he was disappointed by the governor’s decision. He reiterated this was one of the best hopes New Jersey had for finding new sources of revenue, especially from the gambling industry.
Caputo said, “The legislation would have been a much-needed shot in the arm for Atlantic City and our racetracks, in particular. This was a viable opportunity to increase revenue and help rejuvenate New Jersey’s casino industry, and we didn’t take it.”
Christie Hopes to Find Alternative Sports Betting Policy
Chris Christie said in his statement that he would seek other ways to draw out more cash from the gambling industry. He also stated his administration would seek new ways to legalize sports betting in the state, but in ways which complied with federal law. New Jersey was once given the opportunity to join in the PASPA law, so it is not out of the realm of possibility (though highly unlikely) that federal lawmakers could be convinced to modify the existing law.
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