New Jersey Republican Senate Candidate Jeff Bell Opposes Internet Gambling
The Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey is against Internet gambling. Jerry Bell, who faces incumbant US Senator Cory Booker in the November election, questions the growing reliance on gambling revenues of states like New Jersey.
When asked to explain his policy, Jeff Bell said, “I think it just hurts working American and it tempts them…It causes social damage, and I think it’s going too far.”
How Bell Won the Republican Primary
Bell, who won a four-person GOP primary this spring, was non-commital on where sports gambling should be allowed. He did say that he thought sports bets should be restricted to certain destinations, but did not say whether Atlantic City was one of those destinations.
While Bell does not want to ban casino gambling altogether, he believes it should be restricted to certain areas. He also believes states are too reliant on gambling revenue, seeing it as an easy way to raise money without directly raising taxes. He says states are “going overboard trying to raise revenue that way.”
American Gaming Association Stats
The American Gaming Association sees the revenues in a positive light. Their rejoinder is that people gambling is voluntary. Also, tourist destinations tend to attract upper and middle class Americans–not the poor. With that in mind, most gamblers can afford their losses, and see the losses as an entertainment cost no different than concert tickets.
The AGA says casinos paid $8.6 billion in taxes to U.S. treasuries in 2012. That number rose by $4 billion over a ten year period. The expansion of gambling throughout the United States has hurt New Jersey’s traditional gaming capital: Atlantic City. While overall revenues have increased across the USA, Atlantic City has seen a decline of nearly 50% in its profits in the past 7 years. With such a decline, the city has not been able to deliver on promises its leaders made when gambling was first improved back in the 1970’s.
Bell says he remembers the campaign to legalize casino gambling in New Jersey, and he feels like the promises came to nothing. Bell said, “There are visions of the revitalization of Atlantic City and just, you know, bringing incredible wealth to South Jersey, and in particular the shore, and I’m not sure those have been fulfilled and I’m not sure they can be now that Atlantic City isn’t a unique destination the way it used to be.”
Jeff Bell’s Political Career
Jeff Bell has been involved in politics since the Seventies. He was an aide in the administrations of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. He also has been a maverick among GOP circles in that time.
Jeff Bell ran an insurgency campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1978, defeating the last elected GOP senator for Congress: Clifford P. Case. In the 1978 general election, Bell lost to former NBA star Bill Bradley. Jeff Bell lost in the 1982 Republican primary for the US Senate.
Since then, Jeff Bell has lived in Virginia. This year, Bell rented a home in Bergen County and launched another insurgency campaign for Senate. He is a long shot in the race against Senator Cory Booker. Booker has $1.8 million in his campaign fund, compared to $17,864 in the fund for Bell.
Bell says he is happy to be the long shot. Under any other circumstances, his candidacy was not likely to succeed. He added, “I’m happy that is a long shot because that is how I was able to get in after my long absence.”
It might help Jeff Bell to take an anti-gambling stance, if he can make a distinction between land-based casino gambling and online gambling. The quickest way to make up a funding deficit would be to gain financial support from the GOP’s largest donor, Sheldon Adelson of the Las Vegas Sands. Adelson has shown support for politicians who are against online gambling.
Bell might be seen as too much of an underdog to waste money on, but having a senate candidate in one of the bastions of online gambling could prove useful for the 8th richest man in the world. It might force Adelson’s opponents to defend territory they traditionally own.
Jeff Bell’s Stance on the Federal Reserve
Gambling is not his central issue. Instead, Jeff Bell wants to change the way the Federal Reserve handles American finance. He believes the low-interest policies of the Fed has driven more money to the wealthiest individuals. The policy has limited the amount of cash smaller banks can lend. This limits small-business growth, which limits job growth. Typically, small business owners keep jobs in America, while big corporations tend to outsource as many jobs as they can.
Bell said the issue looks good at first glance, but is bad for American small businesses and workers alike. Bell said, “You have the phenomena for Middle America of easy money and tight credit.”
Bell’s Economic Policies
To change the Fed’s policies, Jeff Bell suggests a return to the Gold Standard, which the Nixon administration took the country off of in 1971. If still using the gold standard, the U.S. government would find it harder to run budget deficits, because the debt would be payable in gold. It is no coincidence that the U.S. national debt ballooned in the 10 to 20 years after the economy was taken off the gold standard.
Jeff Bell takes a historical approach to his economic policies. He says that the gold standard help spur the Industrial Revolution, because it encouraged a fairer economic system. Bell adds, “An unlevel playing field, like we have today, makes the rich richer and leaves the poor on a treadmill. I’m one Republican who likes to talk about increased inequality because I don’t think it’s healthy and I do think there’s a monetary cause to it.”
Policy Positions of Jeff Bell
Other key issues for Jeff Bell are beach replenishment, medical marijuana, health care, and immigration reform. He believes health insurance and employment should be decoupled. Tax credits should cover a reasonable catastrophic illness, but additional coverage should be bought. His immigration policies should encourage educated immigrants, but also include guest worker reforms. Bell supports beach replenishment, while he thinks caps should be imposed for beachfront home insurance. He opposes medical marijuana, saying legalization is a mask for recreational marijuana.
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