Nullification: It’s a Jersey Thing

May 25th, 2012

Governor Christie does his best John C. Calhoun impression and is openly willing to defy a federal law that bans gambling in the Garden State.

GTLN–Gym, Tan, Laundry,┬áNullification:

New Jersey will defy a federal ban and let people bet on the outcomes of football, basketball and other games this fall, Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday. Speaking at a news conference highlighting efforts to reinvigorate Atlantic City, Christie said the regulations his administration will issue next week make no attempt to overturn a 1992 federal law that limits sports betting to four states.

“We intend to go forward,” the Republican governor said. “If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us. We want to work with the casinos and horse racing industry to get it implemented.

“Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes,” the governor said. “But I have every confidence we’re going to be successful.”

Operators of casinos aren’t quite as gung-ho.

“I love the idea of playing offense and having the federal government have to play defense against us,” said Tony Rodio, president of Tropicana Entertainment, which owns the Tropicana in Atlantic City, as well as casinos in several other states. “But I don’t know who’s going to want to be the first to open knowing they can shut you down. We’d need a lot more clarity before we invested lots of money in a sports book.”

Likewise, Aaron Gomes, vice president of Resorts Casino Hotel, said the concept of moving ahead unilaterally is appealing but risky.

“It’s going to be hard to find someone willing to take the first jump,” he said. “Particularly for companies that do business in multiple jurisdictions, they might not want to jeopardize their licenses in other states.”

Is the ban unconstitutional? What the hell would Christie’s argument be?

Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the Democratic lawmaker who tried to sue to overturn the federal ban, predicted the law would be overturned.

“To those with a vested interest in the status quo — the professional sports organizations who take a hypocritical stance that wagering will ‘ruin the purity of the game,’ and the Nevada-based gaming conglomerates that have enjoyed that state’s stranglehold on sports wagering for the last 20 years — I respectfully say, ‘Bring it on,’ ” he said in a statement. “The sooner you make an issue of New Jersey’s noncompliance with an unconstitutional federal ban, the sooner we can defeat that ban in the courts, and put New Jersey on the same competitive footing as the rest of the nation when it comes to sports wagering.”

Dormant commerce clause? Federalism? I mean, I don’t even know what the argument would be? Is there some kind of commerce-clause-black-hole in Seaside where federal laws go to die (and tan)?

This isn’t the first time Governor Christie was willing to stand up to other branches of government.