TRENTON, N.J. (AP) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says regulating fantasy football is ''a stupid idea.''
The governor's comments Thursday morning on CNN came after he ridiculed the idea during Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate and seemed to preclude New Jersey from taking action to regulate daily fantasy sports, even as other jurisdictions have done so or considered doing so, claiming they amount to gambling.
The New Jersey governor is also embroiled in a more than three-year battle to overturn a federal ban on sports betting in all but four states.
''They shouldn't regulate fantasy football,'' Christie said Thursday. ''It's a stupid idea.''
During Wednesday night's debate, Christie chimed in after a debate moderator questioned former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said someone should regulate daily fantasy sports. Christie said that with a crushing debt, unemployment and terrorist threats, the government has more important issues to tackle.
''Are we really talking about getting the government involved in fantasy football?'' Christie asked. ''Wait a second: We have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and al-Qaeda attacking us, and we're talking about fantasy football? Can we stop? Enough on fantasy football, let people play. Who cares?''
Daily fantasy sports allows players to deposit money in accounts, create rosters of sports teams by selecting individual players, and then compete against other fantasy contestants based on the statistical performance of those players in order to win money. Proponents say it is a game of skill, not chance, and should not be regulated the same way casinos are.
Nevada gambling regulators earlier this month required companies offering daily fantasy sports to obtain a state gambling license in order to continue. Since then, states including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Georgia have considered enacting their own rules.
But New Jersey has been conspicuous in its silence regarding the issue. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement, whose regulation of New Jersey's gambling industry is considered by the industry to be the most strict in the country, has repeatedly refused to say whether it was considering regulating daily fantasy sports. Officials from the division did not respond to renewed requests for comment Thursday morning.
Christie's comments came as New Jersey presses forward with its thus-far unsuccessful efforts to overturn a federal ban on legalized sports betting in all but four states. Having state regulators oversee and guarantee the integrity has been touted as one of the main advantages of sports betting by its New Jersey proponents, along with gaining tax revenue and cutting into illegal gambling operations run by organized crime.
Earlier this month, an appeals court voted to reconsider an earlier ruling against the state.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC