Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Opposing Online Gaming in New Jersey: The Time to Act is Now

There is a full court press to get Governor Christie to sign the legislation legalizing online gaming in New Jersey to benefit Atlantic City.  Senator Lesniak, other politicians, and the Poker Player's Alliance are pushing the Governor to sign this legislation.  It is imperative for racing interests to work against this legislation as much as the PPA is promoting it.

There are several reasons why this bill must be vetoed by the Governor prior to the February 7 deadline.  First, there are the constitutional issues.  When the constitutional amendment legalizing casino gaming in New Jersey, limiting it to Atlantic City was passed, it was a second attempt as a constitutional amendment approving casino gambling state-wide went down to defeat.  At the time of the amendment's approval, it was clear the New Jersey voter's intent was to limit casinos to Atlantic City alone, nowhere else in New Jersey.

This proposed legislation clearly is an attempt to circumvent the will of the people at the time of the constitutional amendment's passage.  By having the servers in Atlantic City, the state legislature is trying to claim gambling will still be restricted to Atlantic City.  Really?  Are people going to have to drive down to Atlantic City to fund their wagering accounts or will they be able to fund their accounts using the mail or via their computer located in Morristown?  When a gambler plays a casino game from Hackettstown, making a wager or hitting the enter button on their lap top is not considered making a wager?  I find this hard to believe.  If the state wants online gaming, they need to do it right by getting a new constitutional amendment passed legalizing it, along with allowing a casino at the Meadowlands.

But constitutional issues aside, this legislation benefits Atlantic City at the expense of horse racing in New Jersey, be it ACRC, Freehold, Meadowlands, or Monmouth Park.  While poker is a game of skill, other casino games are based on luck and can attract the same customers as racetracks do.  For the state to pass legislation for the advantage of one industry at the direct expense of another industry is unconscionable.  I understand the state is trying to salvage a now obsolete model of casino resorts which is Atlantic City and I don't deny them the opportunity to give Atlantic City a window of time to get their house in order.  This is why if  New Jersey wants to offer online gaming, it should be done with the passage of a constitutional amendment which will allow online gaming for Atlantic City Casinos and allow the opening of a casino in the Meadowlands as of January 1, 2015 which will give the casinos their five year window to get their house in order yet allow the Meadowlands to get ready to open a casino on January 1, 2015.

At this time, what is needed is for those opposed to this online gaming bill to make sure their voices are heard.  There are several ways this can be done.  First, you may use social media to make your views known by writing the Governor on Twitter at @GovChristie or sending him a message on Facebook at Governor Chris Christie.  In addition to social media, you may contact the Governor's office at 609-292-6000 to voice your opinion or via email.

Racing seems to be straightening its ship.  If you wish to allow New Jersey racing to continue to improve, it is important that the Governor hears your opinions regarding online gaming now.  If not now, there may never be another chance. 

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