New Jersey Governor Chris Christie inked an agreement providing $37.4 billion towards reinstating non-essential government services in the state. This is so that the state parks and also gambling casinos could operate unhindered in spite of the current government shutdown. Gov. Christie has previously refused to commit to any executive action to save the Garden State’s gambling industry. But he signed the agreement eventually so that the state’s gaming commission could continue to work.
The current standoff has been caused by lawmakers’ failure to come to an agreement regarding the state’s budget in time. In fact, it almost caused the state’s casinos to shut down. The gaming industry had previously been given a leeway of a week’s time to operate even if the government shutdown. However, both the branches of the state government finally worked out an agreement before the period came to an end. Thereby, allowing the casinos to keep working indefinitely.
Senate President Steve Sweeney’s Bill
Senate President Steve Sweeney had presented a bill in association with lawmakers Jim Whelan and Jeff van Drew. It was to amend the previous law that gave the casino industry seven days to work even after the government shutdown. The casino industry is vital to the region’s economy. It will not be able to sustain a shut down. Especially in a scenario where recently it has begun to show growth in profits after a long period of stagnation. That period saw iconic properties like the Trump Taj Mahal shutting down.
It is clear that lawmakers understand the importance of taking no chances with this industry. Many Atlantic City casinos have shut down in the past couple of years. But the ones left standing are managing to consolidate business. The casinos provide employment directly and indirectly to many people in the region. Therefore, their closure will have far reaching negative economic consequences.
An Interesting Turn of Events…
Interestingly, this isn’t the first government shutdown experienced by the state. The last one which happened in 2006 cost the state revenues of around $4 million over a three day period. Gov. Christie had passed an executive order in 2010. It excluded gambling commissioners from any future government shutdowns stating that their jobs were essential to the state’s economy.
It has to be pointed out, however, that not all lawmakers were in agreement with this move. In fact, many gaming commission employees considered essential to uninterrupted casino operations would in any case not have come under the ambit of the government shutdown. These employees are already protected by the terms of Gov. Christie’s 2010 executive order.
The state’s flourishing online gambling business is credited with helping revive interest in its land based industry instead of cannibalizing it as was previously feared. There was initially a lot of resistance to legalizing online gambling but the figures speak for themselves. New Jersey is one of the few states to offer online casinos in the United States. It has generated more than $100 million in taxes from this industry from the time of its legalisation way back in November 2013.
Gov. Christie Unfazed by Beach Trip Bad Press
Governor Chris Christie is never one to worry about bad press. He seems to have shrugged off the public outcry generated when pictures of his family outing to an otherwise empty state beach surfaced. Some public parks and sections of the beaches had indeed been closed to the public on account of the government shutdown. But as the Governor tweeted, 119 out of 130 miles were still open to the public. The Governor’s spokesperson also pointed out that the beach in question was adjoining to one of his official residences. He also mentioned that the trip had been planned long before the shutdown.