Last time we checked on poker happenings from New Jersey, the 2012 version of that state’s move to regulate online gambling for its residents had just passed the New Jersey Assembly, and was head on to the NJ Senate, where it was due for a December 20th vote.
To no one’s surprise, the bill sailed through. We could even shockingly report that opposition to the bill was 50% stronger this time, since it was 34-2 last time, and 33-3 for this version. From there, the bill has since moved on to the desk of Governor Chris Christie, where… nothing has happened.
And a whole lot of poker media outlets have duly reported that, yes, nothing has happened.
Hate to join the pack, so let’s ask instead, why is Christie (again) dragging his toes?
The answer may well have to do with Christie’s future national aspirations, which like his waist, are considerable. It no longer seems to be a question of whether or not this bill is going to happen; the constitutional issues Christie raised before vetoing a similar measure in 2011 no longer seem to be in play, and the Jersey economy is in dire need of something that can reported as a positive boost.
There also seem to be plenty of votes to override a veto and make legal online poker happen in New Jersey anyway, even if Christie goes thumbs-down.
So why the wait?
What’s likely happening here is that Christie is waiting for the most advantageous moment to either sign or veto the measure. If he’s really eyeing the national stage, then the GOP and its loudly voiced platform planks against online gambling have to be considered, since the issue has the potential of being used against him by the powerful right-wing factions of the party.
In that case, Christie may well be crafting a way to sign the bill into law without causing too much friction with the GOP’s conservative right. Such a savvy politician might even consider issuing a statement suggesting that he might be morally opposed to certain aspects of the bill, but is going ahead and signing it to save the work of confronting a likely veto override.
Or he could go ahead and veto it again, and risk a little bit of backlash within New Jersey. One could even step back and consider this small bill as something as a litmus test, as to whether Christie’s primary interests remain within New Jersey, or are directed a bit farther south.
One thing’s for sure: Whenever this is signed or vetoed, likely sometime this month, expect it to happen on a Friday, the weakest news day in the weekly cycle. Since it’s an issue where Christie is likely to receive a bit of flak no matter which way he chooses, he’ll no doubt opt to minimize the news itself as much as possible. In both politics and business, that means Friday. Any Friday will do.
Regardless, it looks as though New Jersey will soon be the third state to official authorize intrastate online poker. The wave continues.
While you wait for online poker to be legal in New Jersey – test your poker skills at America’s Cardroom now!