In November, New Jersey voters will decide whether casino gambling will expand to the northern part of the state.
Yesterday, the state Assembly and Senate voted 54-15 and 34-6, respectively, in favor of resolution SCR1/ACR1, which “proposes constitutional amendment to authorize Legislature, to permit by law, establishment and operation of casinos in certain counties.” More specifically, voters will be asked whether to approve two casinos in North Jersey, thus amending the state constitution and repealing a provision that only limits casinos to Atlantic City. The two new casinos would have to be at least 75 miles away from Atlantic City and in separate counties.
If approved, the plan would provide $200 million in taxes annually from the new casinos to aid in any Atlantic City casino losses that occur from the introduction of northern New Jersey gambling. The rest of the revenue would go towards tax relief for senior citizens, while two percent would aid the state’s horse racing industry and the yet-to-be determined counties and municipalities where the new casinos will be located.
Proponents of the plan say that the new casinos in northern New Jersey would create thousands of new jobs and provide the state with millions of dollars of new revenue. In addition, they say that new casinos would make New Jersey – which has seen 4 of 12 casinos in Atlantic City close in 2014 – competitive again in the northeast gaming market, while recapturing the gambling money that’s now going to casinos in neighboring states and to help rebuild Atlantic City.
However, opponents of the plan say that new casinos will only lead to more Atlantic City casinos closing.
“We’re over-saturated and by putting more in North Jersey it’s not going to help anybody,” said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo of Atlantic County.