Pictured above: Chamber President Joe Kelly is working the halls of the statehouse on the last day of current legislative session. The chamber has worked tirelessly to advocate for issues important to its members, in particular, the opposition of expanding casinos outside of Atlantic City.
As you know, the Greater Atlantic City Chamber has long been actively involved in opposing the expansion of gaming outside Atlantic City and has testified on numerous occasions at the committee meetings and public hearings in Trenton on this issue. We will continue to fight to protect the regional economy and its economic future by presenting the negative impacts, and will be seeking Chamber member’s engagement to help bring our concerns to all state legislators and policymakers.
On January 11, 2016, the State Senate voted to approve Senate Concurrent Resolution 185 (sponsored by Senators Sarlo and Sweeney), which would permit the state’s residents to vote on a constitutional amendment to expand casinos outside Atlantic City. The Senate voted 33 to 6 in favor of the Senate resolution, which would allow two casinos at least 72 miles from Atlantic City, with current casinos able to operate those facilities, and establish a special investment fund to provide for a portion of state revenues from the casinos to fund economic development projects in Atlantic City,
The Assembly was considering a separate resolution (sponsored by Assembly Speaker Prieto) , which differed from the Senate bill in that the revenue amounts for Atlantic City would be reduced and one of the casino licenses would be open to new licensees. In order for an amendment to the Constitution to be considered by voters in the same year, it must obtain a 3/5 (super majority) affirmative vote of the legislature. The alternative is to obtain a majority of the legislature’s approval in two successive calendar years to be placed on the ballot.
Following the Senate vote Monday, Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto announced that a compromise had been reached which would allow for expanded casino gaming outside of Atlantic City and would allow for two casinos to be built at least 72 miles away from Atlantic City. The compromise include the commitment to invest at least $1 billion as well as reach project completion within specified time periods. Since the current legislative session ended on Monday, the measure will be voted on by both Houses in the new legislative session, which begins January 12. If passed by a super majority, the measure will be placed on the November ballot and the public will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to expand gaming outside of Atlantic City.
Please contact the Chamber if you have any questions. You can access additional information on the Chamber’s position and related communications at the Chamber website under the “Do Business” heading – click here.