Christie: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

December 26, 2000 9:30 AM
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Don’t let the door hit you in the behind.

Lots of people have heard that expression as someone leaves for another job.

I say it to Christie Todd Whitman as she leaves as governor of New Jersey. She was named Friday to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

My gripe with Christie, whom most people consider very talented, is that she single-handedly kept sports betting out of New Jersey.

When she ran for governor the first time, Sen. Bill Bradley attached an amendment to a Senate bill in Washington to ban sports betting everywhere in the U.S. Exceptions were made for Nevada, which was grandfathered in, and the football lottery in Oregon.

The passage of the bill itself is a lesson on the abuse in Washington. It was slipped through with no debate. To this day, most fans don’t even know about it. It also was a clue to the lack of the common touch by Senator Bradley. His elitist demeanor put his presidential campaign in the dumper a few years later in New Hampshire.

But here’s where Christie comes in: The bill would have let New Jerseyites have betting on sporting events in Atlantic City as long as the people voted on it and passed it by the deadline at the end of the year.

Whitman, a Republican, controlled the Ways and Means Committee in New Jersey, which decides what questions go on the ballot. The governor then was a Democrat, but the legislature was Republican. The Republicans didn’t want "the masses" to vote. (Sound familiar?) They knew if the betting proposal was on the ballot, it would generate all sorts of publicity and bring out more people.

You might recall this was the same election where Republicans were accused of making big donations to black churches as long as the ministers didn’t urge their congregation to get out and vote. This charge has been substantiated by several political reporters.

The question of betting on games never made it to the ballot that November. Whitman won the election. No sports betting in Atlantic City.

Would you care to guess how much business that move cost the citizens of the Garden State? It cost them revenue. It cost the casinos business. It cost bettors like you and me convenience.

Who knows how much? Only The Shadow knows.

Maybe some gamers who go to Connecticut would have gone to New Jersey if they could bet on pro football too?

Maybe some people with offshore accounts would be spending their money in NJ.

The people who go to Vegas would probably be going there anyway. Vegas is Vegas. But is there any doubt that Christie didn’t have the best interest of Garden Staters at heart?

So long, Governor. Good luck. I don’t hold grudges. But while you’re the head of the environment, why don’t you see what happened to the old nuclear submarine base in Connecticut or the nuclear waste sites in Nevada? Maybe you can close up everybody. You can save the environment and kill gaming at the same time!

As I said, "Don’t let the door hit you in the behind."

Spend A Buck
To Make A Buck:

Good holiday news for the workers and bettors at Massachusetts racetracks. The simulcasting law, scheduled to go out at the end of the year, has been extended for six months.

The Legislature extended the simulcasting in so-called "informal session." It’s a ploy by which just about anything can be approved as long as there are no objections.

Usually some arm-twisting is involved if there’s a problem. In this case, the anti-greyhound lobby, which barely lost a bid to ban the sport in the November election, kept the pressure on legislative leaders. Apparently for those efforts, the informal session also created a committee to oversee the treatment of greyhounds.

Do you think they could have simulcasting at the Fairs?

Onward to victory!