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Governor's Options in New Jersey Bill

By: Shirley Spicer, Wednesday January 12th 2011
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Online gaming industry expert Vin Narayanan has in an incisive analysis explained what the options are before the New Jersey Governor in connection with the online gambling bill that has been passed by the state Senate and Assembly. He argues that it is very much possible the Federal politics could come into play and put an end to this historic effort.

The first option before Republican Governor Christie is to sign the bill into law. Everyone in the online gambling industry is hoping that he will follow this course. But not everyone is expecting him to do so. Why they have these fears will be elucidated later. What happens if the governor rejects the bill will be discussed first. The bill goes back to the New Jersey Legislature. If the legislators want to overturn the Governor's decision they have to pass the bill again in both the Senate and the Assembly. But this time a simple majority will not do. They need a two-thirds majority. The bill was sponsored by Democrat state senator Raymond Lesniak. The Democrats do not command two-thirds majority in either the Senate or the Assembly. They need Republican support, which they got the first time round in approving the bill. But based on past practice, it is expected that many Republican legislators who have voted for the bill, will not vote in its favor once it has been rejected by the Governor. The rejection of a bill by a governor usually polarizes the legislators into party blocs. Therefore if the Governor vetoes this online gambling bill, then it is likely that the veto will stand.

The million dollar question therefore is will Governor Christie veto the bill. Narayanan argues that this possibility cannot be ruled out. It would depend on whether Christie wants to vie for Republican Party ticket for the 2012 presidential or vice-presidential race. Christie has the makings of a national leader. But signing the New Jersey online gambling bill will irk the conservatives of the Republican Party who are fighting tooth and nail to keep online gambling illegal at the federal level. Hence by signing the bill Christie will blow his chances of making it big in the national arena, at least in the foreseeable future. And this is a risk that he may not want to take.

Given the bipartisan support that the bill has enjoyed Governor Christie will have to provide some reasons for vetoing the bill. He can take refuge in the uncertainty and murkiness surrounding online gaming legislation and state that he does not want to oppose current federal policy. He can take the view that online gaming should be legalized at a federal level before the states do so. All eyes are on Governor Christie. Will he allow personal ambitions to scuttle a historic moment?

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