New Jersey’s gambling expansion to be discussed today

The proposal to allow two casinos outside of Atlantic City is scheduled for today’s last session in the New Jersey Legislature.

US.- The expansion of the gambling industry in the state outside Atlantic city, has created quite a predicament for the Senate and the Assembly.  On one hand, the state is getting behind in terms of gambling revenue as gamblers are heading to casinos in Yonkers and Queens, New York and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The creation of two new casinos located in Bergen County Meadowlands and in Hudson County could result in 12,000 new jobs in the region and may recapture the audience that left to NY. This expansion will be beneficial for the entire state as taxes derived from gambling revenues will be allocated in programmes and tax relief for seniors and the disabled statewide. On the other hand, the success of this proposal could result in more casino closings and massive job losses in the Atlantic City, which has been weathering nine years of declining casino revenue and mounting job losses. In 2006 Atlantic City’s casinos won US$5.2 billion, 2015’s figures due to be released next week would probably show that this number has fallen to around US$2.5 billion.

To level the playing field, Senate President Steve Sweeney proposes to allocate bulky tax subsidies from the new casinos’ winnings to compensate Atlantic City for the loss of the monopoly granted in the state’s Constitution. Furthermore, the impact of casinos in northern New Jersey would be a huge blow on Atlantic City so Sweeney’s plan would require both new casinos to be owned by existing Atlantic City operators. Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown, believes the state is in debt with Atlantic City for the millions in gambling taxes its casinos sent to the state for 38 years.

On his part, Steve Fulop, Jersey City Mayor, expressed that host communities should be compensated for the added expense the gambling halls would bring and therefore supports the Assembly bill which proposes that only one of the two casinos should be owned by a company not currently operating in Atlantic City. By the same token, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, stated: “The customers that have left our state are not going to Atlantic City. They don’t get on a bus because they love saltwater taffy. They want a game, preferably 15, 20 minutes away.”