Sweeney has not given up on Northern NJ gambling expansion

Voters will weigh in this November on whether to allow casinos outside Atlantic City.

Supporters of the initiative to allow two new casinos in the Northern part of New Jersey are ramping up efforts to convince voters.

US.- Since gambling parlours have historically been restricted to Atlantic City, some fear the city’s financial problems and all the bickering over how to keep it out of bankruptcy, may have negatively affected the state’s voters on casinos. Now, after a battle over a proposed state takeover of Atlantic City, supporters of a gambling expansion are ramping up efforts to convince voters to allow two new casinos in the northern part of New Jersey.

Last week, Gov. Chris Christie, signed a law that gives the city until October to balance its budget. After breaking the deal to allow a referendum on a gambling expansion, Christie declared on Wednesday that he hasn’t decided whether he will campaign in support of it. The fight over a state takeover of Atlantic City put the referendum’s chances for success “at almost a complete flat line,” said Christie.

On the other hand, Senate President Steve Sweeney, a co-sponsor of the proposed constitutional amendment to allow gambling in northern New Jersey, attended on Friday a rally in support of the expansion in Rutherford, near the Meadowlands site where New York real estate mogul Jeffrey Gural wants to build a US$1.3 billion casino in partnership with Hard Rock International. Sweeney commented that he believes northern New Jersey casinos would more likely compete with casinos in New York and Pennsylvania than those in Atlantic City.

“I think it’s going to be extremely difficult to pass gaming in northern New Jersey,” said Sweeney. “People are seeing what’s going on with gaming and looking at all the problems and reading all the headlines…and saying, ‘Is that really what we want for our town?’” Sweeney added that he has not “giving up yet” on the Nov. 8 referendum.