Christie said he had a number of "significant concerns" with the legislation, especially the expansion of casino gaming outside of Atlantic City.
The New Jersey state constitution requires casino gambling to be restricted to the territorial limits of Atlantic City. Christie rejected the argument that by placing servers in Atlantic City, the bill would satisfy constitutional requirements.
“Casino gaming is a vital component of the State’s economy and one of our most important industries, generating billions in revenues and providing tens of thousands of jobs. Since the earliest days of my Administration, I have stressed the urgent need to address the critical issues surrounding the casino industry in order to reinvigorate this sector of our economy and ensure its long-term sustainability,” said Governor Christie.
“In partnership with the Legislature, we have achieved meaningful reforms that provide the impetus for new investment and increased tourism that will lead Atlantic City to recapturing its status as the premier resort destination in our region of the nation,” he added.
In his veto message, Governor Christie recognized as laudable the intent of the bill to make New Jersey a more competitive gaming jurisdiction, but also cited numerous concerns with the legislation as it relates to the administration’s stated policy objectives and the New Jersey State Constitution, including potential allowance of gambling outside of Atlantic City’s borders and the continuation of a public subsidy for horseracing, respectively.
“I wholeheartedly support the intentions of the Legislature to make New Jersey a more competitive gaming jurisdiction. However, I do not believe that Internet gambling as contemplated in S-490 is a viable option for continuing the progress that we have made so far in reversing the fortunes of the casino industry in New Jersey,” he concluded.
The bill would have allowed New Jersey residents to place bets through websites operated by casino companies in Atlantic City. It will now go to a vote in the full Senate and would need approval from the House, would allow casinos in Iowa to offer online poker to residents of the state. Other forms of online gambling are being considered in Florida and California.
Despite Christie's veto, state legislatures across the country continue to work on similar bills as states try to find new sources of revenues. In Iowa, an online poker bill was approved late Wednesday by the Senate State Government Committee in a 9-6 vote.
"I am not at all surprised by the governor's decision to veto this bill," said Richard Bronson, chairman of U.S. Digital Gaming. "It takes time to do the legislation right."
Bronson's online gaming technology company, based in Beverly Hills, is involved in efforts to legalize online gambling in Iowa, Florida and California. Bronson said he still believes the issue will be solved on a state level.