North Jersey Casino Expansion
On Monday, a State Senate committee held a public hearing to discuss the plan and legislation, that if successfully passed would open the door for casino expansion in northern New Jersey.
In January Governor Christie stepped in to arbitrate a compromise between sponsors of the casino expansion bill and sponsors of competing bills in the Assembly and Senate. The resulting unified bill, SCR1 passed a senate committee by a 9-2 vote shortly after. A few weeks later the identical bill, ACR1 was also passed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
A second public hearing is scheduled for March 7 in the Assembly. Then, the two chambers will take a final vote, and pending a three-fifths majority in each house, it will be left up to the voters this November to decide the bill’s fate.
Here’s a more detailed look into what SCR1/ACR1 are saying. First, it’s important to note that the above legislation is a proposed amendment to the New Jersey constitution. ACR1 Proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to permit by law establishment and operation of casinos in certain counties.
Supporters of the expansion have high hopes for what follows if the bill passes. Republican Senator Jennifer Black from Monmouth County spoke out this week strongly in favor of a North Jersey casino expansion ballot question; the senator insists its “critical” to saving Jersey’s gaming industry. Along with those arguing in support of the expansion, Senator Beck has significant concern about the impact on NJ from all the gaming venues that have been opening along our border states. Many have pointed out that Jerseyans are attracted to these establishments, especially since they’re in such close proximity, resulting in NJ residents’ spending money on gaming, retail, food & beverages, entertainment and lodging- money leaving the NJ economy to instead be poured into a neighboring state on a daily basis.
“This bipartisan-supported legislation would provide opportunities for new private-sector jobs and revenues to support critical public services for the people of New Jersey. It would help support lowering taxes, programs for senior citizens and the disabled, open space preservation and the struggling horseracing farms and venues, including Freehold Raceway, Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands.” – Senator Jennifer Beck
With the severe tanking of the Atlantic City economy those in favor of expansion seem quite certain that adding casinos to North Jersey will produce enough revenue to put back an allotted amount into our state’s famous seaside gaming haven. The bill promises up to one-third of the tax revenue generated from the new casinos will go toward redeveloping Atlantic City.
Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown, opposing the expansion argues the above plan doesn’t take into account the full picture.
Assemblyman Brown has cited two studies that suggest significant potential problems with Senator Beck’s plan. One concluded that the proposed Hard Rock Meadowlands site could swallow up Atlantic City’s consumer base since almost 42% of the seaside resort’s consumers are North Jersey residents. The second study similarly found that Meadowlands slot gaming would not only swallow up Atlantic City’s market share but also provide a significant dent in A.C.-derived state revenue streams.
(Studies cited by Brown were performed by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming Hospitality and Tourism at Richard Stockton College and a second by the Casino Association of New Jersey)
From our position, casino expansion seems more likely to have a potentially problematic outcome for New Jersey, rather than beneficial. From a common sense standpoint, how may casinos can a certain geographical area support, especially if we take into consideration all the casinos now popping up along our border states? Sure, initially a new gaming establishment in North Jersey is likely to perform well; but just how long can that be sustained before they too begin to suffer the ailing symptoms of cannibalization by the pending casinos to be built in New York City?
Also concerning to us is the fallout likely to be incurred by Atlantic City families and residents. There seems to be a strong probability that casinos in North Jersey will only add to the devastating amount of job loss Atlantic City has already undergone. In 2014 four casinos closed in A.C., 8,000 people lost their jobs. Joe Kelly, president of Greater Atlantic City Chamber predicts that adding casinos to North Jersey would ultimately lead to two more casino closings in A.C. – resulting in a staggering 14,000 direct job losses.
The people impacted by this are mothers and fathers, residents of the Atlantic City community who are already struggling significantly to support their families. And what about the single parents who have only one income? So many have been hit hard by this domino effect… I read about a woman in particular, who shared her story, a single mom who was employed at the former Revel, it closed, then Showboat, also closed, and onto Trump Plaza casinos- you guessed it, CLOSED.
Job loss isn’t the only major damage more casinos could bring. Casinos attract all walks of life; the rich- looking to get richer, the poor- hoping for a miracle, the young- looking to party, the old & lonely- seeking purpose and companionship, the crime syndicate- looking to take more, and the addicted- desperate to fill that void. If we look at the big picture here, are more casinos really going to help the people of the Garden State?
We don’t think so! Therefore, because of the above stated reasons we remain opposed to any expansion of gambling in the Garden State. We already have so many broken promises from well-meaning politicians and ultimately, who suffers…? New Jersey’s hard working families.