New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, considered a likely White House contender in 2016, is reportedly under fire for his relationship with GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson and the stalled licensing of an online gambling firm that could revive the state's imploding gaming industry.
According to Business Insider,
state Democratic Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who sponsored the bill legalizing online gambling in New Jersey in 2012, blames Christie's interference for online gamer PokerStar's inability get licensed in New Jersey.
The company planned to open a poker room at Atlantic City's Resorts Casino Hotel, creating about 1,000 jobs.
"Christie put a stop to it," Lesniak told Business Insider. "With a high degree of confidence, it's apparent that's exactly what has happened."
According to Lesniak, the timing of the delay in PokerStars' licensing process has benefited Adelson's fierce fight against Internet gambling.
"All I know is PokerStars was ready to go and then, all of a sudden, when Adelson started his campaign to ban online gaming nationally ... they put it on the back burner," he told Business Insider.
Adeleson, who created a coalition opposed to online gambling
in November 2013, hit the headlines for his relationship with Christie last week as well when The New York Times reported
he loaned Christie the use of his plane.
But, according to Business Insider, Adelson suggested Christie told him he had no ability to stop the legalization of online gambling in New Jersey, saying in a Bloomberg TV
interview in 2013: "I talk to him. He said he was about to be overridden anyway. He said it was about to be overridden or over-vetoed or whatever you call it. I like Governor Christie."
Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a co-chair of the Legislature's special committee
dedicated to investigating the administration created after the Bridgegate scandal, told Business Insider the questions surrounding Christie's relationship with Adelson could lead to the Legislature broadening the scope of its investigation — or even a criminal probe.
"So, the question we have to ask ourselves is, yes, it's expensive, but if we weren't enforcing the laws and standards that everyone is supposed to abide by, then what are we doing?" he told Business Insider.
According to Online Poker Report,
the decision of whether or not to license a given entity for regulated online gambling activity isn’t within Christie's direct purview; the decision sits with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Christie's office told Business Insider it's "nonsensical" to say he interfered with the PokerStars deal.
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