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Aug 8, 9:09 PM EDT

Christie vetoes bill that would have legalized sports betting in New Jersey casinos


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HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) -- Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would have paved the way for sports wagering at New Jersey's casinos and racetracks.

Christie on Friday rejected a bill that would have pushed New Jersey to circumvent a federal law banning gambling on professional and college sports in the state. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to take up the state's case, which means the ban stands.

While Christie said he mounted "a spirited legal effort" to try to change the law, he said he was unwilling to go along with an attempt to bypass the court.

"Ignoring federal law, rather than working to reform federal standards, is counter to our democratic traditions and inconsistent with the Constitutional values I have sworn to defend and protect," he wrote in his veto message.

Both chambers of the Legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill in June, days after the top court's ruling.

Christie, who is considering a run for president, seemed indifferent at the time, saying, "They said `no,' so we have to move on."

Assembly Democrat Ralph Caputo, a sponsor of the legislation, called Christie's decision disappointing and said the state is running out of options for raising revenue.

"The legislation would have been a much-needed shot in the arm for Atlantic City and our racetracks, in particular," he said in a statement. "This was a viable opportunity to increase revenue and help rejuvenate New Jersey's casino industry, and we didn't take it."

Christie said he is open to exploring other approaches for allowing the wagers that comply with federal law.

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