Critics contended that Christie, who may be in the running for vice president or another plum job in Washington, D.C., was avoiding both sports betting and Internet gaming out of fear that he would alienate some key conservative GOP donors — including his close friend, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. Christie has actively campaigned for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Christie said his administration was now formally submitting sports wagering regulations for public review, which is the next step in the process.
"I signed this bill into law because it is another way to continue to boost our casino and horse racing industries and encourage tourists to come to Atlantic City," he said.
Christie said he would try to put the new rules into effect by fall in defiance of the federal ban on sports betting, which limits the activity to four states: Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware.
The federal law, known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, must be overturned before New Jersey can get sports betting. Gaming legal experts say changing the federal law could take some time.
By moving forward, Christie could face a lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department or the professional sports leagues, who sued Delaware three years ago when that state tried to offer more than parlay betting on NFL games.
"If someone wants to stop us, they’ll have to take action to try to stop us," Christie said in front of Resorts Casino. "I decided to authorize it.
“We intend to work with the casino industry here in Atlantic City and with the folks in the horse racing industry to get it implemented by this fall," he said. "I have every confidence that we’re going to be successful."
Christie said the regulations would be published in the New Jersey Register on July 2.A person or entity that wishes to offer sports wagering must obtain a "sports pool license" from a casino licensed by the state Casino Control Commission or a racetrack licensed by the New Jersey Racing Commission. The new regulations also stipulate that sports wagering takes place within a "sports pool lounge" located at a licensed casino or racetrack.
Fifty percent of the proceeds derived from license fees will be used to fund compulsive gambling treatment programs.
Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 856-779-3844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff writer Amy Rosenberg contributed to this report.