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Christie Sees Online Gambling as a 'Quality Of Life' Improvement for New Jersey

The governor opposes the legalization of marijuana but seems to think that online gambling is a healthier option for the Garden State.
Governor Chris Christie has made it abundantly clear that he opposes marijuana legalization in New Jersey. Speaking at a carefully screened town hall of mostly older residents, the governor spoke about marijuana with his typical blustery bombast:

“I am not going to turn our state into a place where people fly into to get high,” said Christie. “And if people want legalized marijuana in the state, elect a new governor.”

As of now, people fly into New Jersey to get high off of industrial fumes and Snookie's hairspray. Given all the millions in pot revenue raked in by Colorado, it's odd that Christie would so deeply oppose it. Just think of all the tax revenue he could use on useless and petty investigations. Christie appears to be doubling down on those comments by making even more disparaging anti-marijuana statements.  

During a recent appearance on New Jersey radio station NJ101.5, the garrulous governor made the following bizarre remarks:

“For the people who are enamored with the idea, with the income, the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there. Adding, “see if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there's head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high. To me, it's just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there's no tax revenue that's worth that," 

Since millions are flocking to Colorado and finding ways of permanently remaining there as the Denver Post pointed out, Christie's looking more and more like a character from the hilariously over-the-top 1936 film Reefer Madness. Seriously, can he hear us from all the way in the 1930s? New Jersey is considered one of the worst places to do business so the idea of bringing a rich and much-needed source of limitless revenue to the state is a no-brainer. The fact that support for legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey is now evenly divided, and that New Jersey’s major prosecutors favor it, is irrefutable proof that the times are a-changin'—even if Christie and national Republicans are devolving. Christie has even turned the state’s medical marijuana program into a bureaucratic nightmare, forcing state residents to rely on shady pot dealers then endure the costly and cruel bureaucracy he has set up. In fact, the state's medical marijuana program is a bad joke, and one of its dispensary owners recently stepped down in frustration. 

Christie seems to think online gambling is a more healthy option to boost quality of life in New Jersey. Let's just take a look at the facts. 

A report by the National Council on Problem Gambling shows that approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide. The Council also said suicide rates among pathological gamblers are higher than any other addictive disorder. Conversely, while the Mayo Clinic says that marijuana use and depression often accompany each other more often than you might expect, there's no damning evidence showing that marijuana directly causes depression. Americans are already learning that alcohol can be more dangerous than marijuana, and what type of drink is typically consumed when gambling? Alcohol. It's rare that you see a compulsive gambler opting for mineral water over scotch. In fact, casinos often offer high rollers free alcoholic drinks to keep them gambling. Then there's the usage of cigarettes and gambling, which go together like a white hood and Donald Sterling. We already know that cigarette smoke is more harmful to the lungs than marijuana, as pointed out by study in the journal of the American Medical Association. But socially speaking, the act of smoking invokes images of anxiety-ridden lost soul, hunkered under a dumpster—the last vestige for smokers—puffing a mile a minute. For someone whose ever seen video of Bob Marley or been to a Willie Nelson concert, the act of smoking marijuana is more closely associated with a relaxed and unconcerned individual. But even if smoking and gambling go hand and hand, smoking is increasingly becoming banned in casinos. That certainly doesn't apply to someone who's gambling and getting stiffed by the house in the comfort of their own home; they can puff and drink like Denis Leary. 

In short: online gambling is more dangerous than gambling in a casino.

Despite the fact that online gambling addictions are diagnosed using the same criteria as "regular" gambling, internet gambling comes with many more hidden features that make it more addictive and dangerous than gambling in a casino.

Here are a few of those features, as compiled by Tech Addiction:

1. If a problem gambler spends two or three days gambling at a casino, someone will likely notice (for example, his friends, family, casino staff, etc.). In contrast, online gamblers can play at work, at home, or even on smart phones without anyone being aware that they are actually gambling.

2. A very important part of gambling addiction treatment is having a strategy to avoid play. For traditional gambling, this generally means avoiding casinos, VLTs, bars, or other physical locations where gambling is made available. With online gambling avoiding this temptation is much more difficult. Every computer with internet access (whether it is at work, home, or somewhere else) becomes a virtual casino awaiting the next bet. 

3. With online gambling, access to one's bank account is always only a click away—which makes the likelihood of impulse betting and "chasing losses" much greater compared to locations where one must physically withdraw money from a bank machine (for example).

4. In many countries it is illegal to operate an online casino. Therefore, a large percentage of internet gambling websites are registered in counties where online gambling is legal. Not surprisingly, these online gambling businesses are not well regulated. It may be difficult to determine exactly who is running an online casino, whether the stated odds are accurate, and there may be few legal options to pursue if someone has been defrauded.

Nobody is arguing that marijuana use should be allowed by people of all ages or that it doesn't come with problems. Similarity nobody is arguing that casino gambling or online gambling should be outlawed anytime soon. But what people are arguing, including many residents of New Jersey, is that Christie is blindly and foolishly maligning something that engenders many benefits. Moreover, he is dismissing the vast revenue boost that legalization would provide to cash-strapped states like New Jersey.

Maybe Christie's just worried that it will give him the munchies too bad.

Michael Hayne is a progressive comedian, writer and voice artist. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook or visit ImpressionsGuy.com

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