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Chris Christie gambling on Internet betting with conditional veto

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Feb. 7, 2013 at 4:50 PM  |  Updated Feb. 7, 2013 at 5:29 PM   |   Comments

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Feb. 7 (UPI) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sent an online gambling bill back to the state Legislature Thursday, demanding changes in tax rates in exchange for his signature.

If the changes are made and the measure goes into law, New Jersey will join Nevada and Delaware in becoming just the third state to legalize online gambling.

Christie's move, called a conditional veto, sends the bill back to legislators, who he wants to raise the tax rate on revenues from 10 percent to 15 percent and strengthen transparency regulations about elected officials involved with gaming entities, the Record reported.

Gambling advocates are thrilled with the decision, as the allowing online gambling--at about double the tax rate than on revenues from brick and mortar casinos--will help a struggling Atlantic City industry stay afloat.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak said he planned to concur with Christie's changes and predicted passage in "a matter of weeks."

It's “a huge win after all these years of fighting, and something that can help keep Atlantic City from drowning in red ink,” Lesniak said.

Christie, for his part, has been a less than enthusiastic advocate for online betting, but couched he support for the law in the economic benefits for Atlantic City in a statement.

"Since the beginning of my Administration, I have stressed the importance of reversing the trend of economic contraction in Atlantic City and have made the revitalization of the region’s gaming and tourism industries a key priority," Christie said.

But he expressed doubt, cautioning that online gambling could reduce tourism and drive traffic away from Atlantic City, rather than fleshing out the industry there.

"If people can gamble in their own homes on their laptops, why are they going to go to Atlantic City?" Christie worried in a radio interview in June.

He vetoed a similar measure in 2011.

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