Will Atlantic City’s Gambling Monopoly Be in New Jersey Voters’ Hands?
Jersey voters in November could be asked to vote on whether casino gambling should be expanded beyond Atlantic City’s borders — a move that some observers say would further damage the city’s already-struggling economy.
AP reports the proposed referendum would ask voters to approve casinos for two separate northern New Jersey counties. The locations aren’t specified, but the Meadowlands in East Rutherford has been frequently mentioned as a future casino site.
The announcement from Senate President Steve Sweeney (download the proposal here) comes just weeks after Moody’s announced Atlantic City is in danger of losing more casinos in coming years. Three remaining casinos are “on the brink,” the service reported.
“But we expect increased competition will keep the heat on incumbents, and that number of casinos in Atlantic City will likely continue to shrink,” Moody’s said.
Which means the proposed November vote has drawn some alarmed reactions from Atlantic City officials and allies.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this continued attempt to siphon off business and jobs from Atlantic City,” Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, told NorthJersey.com. “To think that the answer to an already overly saturated gaming market is saturating it even more is madness.”
As proposed, for the first 15 years, 49 percent of any revenue from a new casino would go to Atlantic City to help it brace for expected losses. Another 49 percent would provide local tax relief to senior citizens.
My gaming proposal is fair, creates jobs & economic growth in all parts of our state & will provide additional revenue to seniors + disabled
— Steve Sweeney (@NJSenatePres) December 12, 2015
“The question of gaming outside of Atlantic City has long been debated,” Sweeney told AP. “Now is the time for the voters to decide.”
Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.