Proponents of bringing Internet gambling to New Jersey — which generally means online poker — have been getting a lot of bad news in the last couple of weeks.
And that in itself is not surprising anymore. As political issues go, Internet gaming has been ping-ponging back and forth in New Jersey like few others.
Guessing, whether or not the state will adopt Internet gaming seems to depend on what week you check on the status.
It’s up. It’s down. It goes on forever.
Right now, it seems to be down again.
Now, there is strong speculation that Governor Chris Christie is against it — again — and a new public poll shows much of the public opposes it as well.
Let’s start with the poll.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll released Monday finds 58 percent of state residents are against legalizing online gambling, while 31 percent support it.
The poll also found that by roughly the same margins, state residents support legalizing sports betting.
Which is fine, considering we already knew the sports-betting part. Last fall state voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on sports betting and the state has already passed a bill allowing it, provided a federal ban on sports betting is lifted.
Two congressmen, Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, and Frank Pallone, D-6th, are trying to move legislation through Congress to change the federal ban.
The Internet gaming bill currently working its way through the New Jersey Legislature is less tricky. At least it should be after the U.S. Justice Department issued an opinion saying that states could allow online gaming confined to only state residents without violating the federal ban on online gambling.
That seemed to put the issue back on the fast track in New Jersey and bills are working their way through both houses of the Legislature.
But now the Fairleigh Dickinson poll — and there have also been others — takes some wind out of the bill’s sails.
According to the poll, Women opposed Internet gambling by a 65 to 25 percent margin and men voiced opposition at a 52 to 37 percent rate. The younger a voter is, however, the more likely they are to support it. But the only age group that supported it in the poll were those 30 and under (not coincidentally, I’m sure, the prime age group for Internet poker players). Republicans (58 percent) and Democrats (60 percent) oppose Internet gambling at roughly the same rates.
And making matters worse, a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week speculates that Christie is having second thoughts about the bill.
Christie vetoed a bill on Internet gaming bill last year for several reasons, including concerns it would violate the federal ban. But the DOJ opinion seemed to cover his concerns and Christie seemed to be supporting the idea.
Now, however, according to the Inquirer report, he may be backing off the idea out of concern for his national political aspirations and a possible vice presidential nomination.
“There are a number of steps that have to be taken before this goes live.”
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