On December 17, the New Jersey Assembly and Senate approved separate resolutions on the issue of expanding gambling into Northern New Jersey
The Senate resolution would provide for two casinos outside a 72 mile radius of Atlantic city, and tax revenues generated by these casinos would be shared between Atlantic city for economic development, senior and disabled state programs, New Jersey counties and the horseracing industry. The amounts devoted to Atlantic City would decline over time and be subject to an overall cap of $150 million annually.
The Assembly resolution provided for 35% of any tax revenues for the first fifteen years from North jersey casinos to be dedicated to Atlantic City revitalization, with the balance divided among senior and disabled programs and the horseracing industry. A final vote on one of these bills will be required and is expected to occur on January 11, which is the last day of the current legislative session.
Chamber President Joe Kelly testified against both resolutions, pointing out the severe economic hardship likely to occur from expanding gambling, and noted the current adverse impact on jobs and the businesses in our region from the glut of casinos throughout neighboring states. In his comments, he noted the “current saturation of the gaming market and that adding to the problem with North jersey casinos would hurt recovery efforts in our marketplace.”
The Assembly also took action on the long pending Atlantic City Stabilization bills, approving the bill with the governor’s proposed changes. Those changes seek to address Atlantic City’s budget difficulties by requiring that casino tax payments be sent to the state and financial aid to the city from the state must be preceded by a comprehensive financial plan approved by the state. The Chamber has been supportive of these bills, which would allow for fixed payments by the casinos for 15 years and eliminate any future tax appeals, redirect funds to the city and provide generally a more stable business environment. The Senate must approve these stabilization bills prior to sending them to Governor Christie for signature.
The Chamber will continue to follow these issues and keep members advised. Please contact the Chamber if you have any questions.