New Jersey residents who were hoping to vote in November on whether a casino should be located in the northern part of the state are out of luck at least until next year, as time has run out for the state legislature to discuss and vote on the issue.
August 3 is the deadline for legislation to be approved in order to place a casino expansion referendum on the ballot. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney told the Press of Atlantic City that it looks like voters won’t be able to have their say on the matter in 2015.
The state constitution calls for casinos to be located only in Atlantic City. In order to amend the constitution, Garden State residents would have to approve such a proposal.
Casino Closings in AC
The idea of constructing one or perhaps more casinos in northern New Jersey took on greater significance last year when four Atlantic City casinos – Trump Plaza, Revel, Showboat and Atlantic Club – closed their doors. All told, about 8,000 casino workers were sent to the unemployment line.
North Jersey lawmakers have introduced a measure to permit up to three new casinos in order to woo state residents who are crossing state lines to gamble elsewhere rather than trek to Atlantic City. The most talked about location is the Meadowlands racetrack, with Hard Rock International waiting in the wings to begin development. Jersey City and Essex County have also been named as possible locales for new casinos.
But Atlantic City lawmakers are crying foul, claiming that casinos in the northern end would hurt the eight remaining casinos in Atlantic City. The issue has become a hot topic, creating division among state legislators.
Sweeney, who is from the southern end of New Jersey, is in favor of one or more North Jersey casinos, as long as part of the tax revenue is funneled to Atlantic City. Some of his southern colleagues, such as Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and Chris Brown, vehemently oppose casino expansion to the north.
Survey Says ….
A Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll taken last month found that 56% of New Jersey residents are against putting casinos anywhere outside of Atlantic City. Thirty-seven percent voted in favor of expansion.
The poll was conducted via telephone. A total of 913 adult residents were queried. Of those, 44% were against sharing revenue with Atlantic City, while 42% were of a giving nature.
New Jerseyans who would gamble in the state away from Atlantic City overwhelmingly (69%) favored the Meadowlands as the new casino’s location. Other favorite destinations for a casino that would be visited by residents included Monmouth Park (49%), Jersey City (41%), and Newark (29%).
The University has been tallying results from similar polls for six years and each time found that a majority of New Jersey voters oppose casino expansion elsewhere in the state. Despite the poll results, North Jersey lawmakers continue to push for casino expansion in their districts.