TRENTON -Bergen County Democratic leaders – Senators Paul A. Sarlo and Joseph Coniglio and County Executive Dennis McNerney – today called for approval of video lottery terminals in the Meadowlands as a funding source of $300 million for the State budget.
“It’s time to make use of this revenue-producer-in-waiting so New Jersey can help itself and not lose out to other states,” said Senator Sarlo, whose 36th District also includes parts of Essex and Passaic counties. “The market is there and VLTs are coming to the States that take the action now to set them up.
Senator Sarlo said the proposal has the “united support of the entire Democratic legislative delegation from Bergen County.”
Senator Coniglio said preliminary estimates are that 5,000 video lottery terminals will provide New Jersey with roughly $300 million in revenues a year.
“It would be a shame to lose out on this revenue source because we failed to act in a timely manner,” said Senator Coniglio.
County Executive McNerney said the economic boost for the Meadowlands region and the State would be substantial.
“Quite simply, Bergen County and the rest of New Jersey will hit the jackpot with the installation of video lottery terminals at the racetrack,” said McNerney.
Senator Sarlo said their proposal would use his pending legislation, S-266, as the basis for enacting a new law authorizing 5,000 video lottery terminals at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
“We are asking for support from the casino industry,” Senator Sarlo said. “In return for support from the casinos, we would oppose any additional casino taxes for the next five years.”
The pending legislation, S-266, was carried over from the last legislative session and has been lodged in the Senate Committee on Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation whose chair, Senator Barbara Buono is a co-prime sponsor.
“I support holding a hearing on the legislation as soon as possible,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex.
Senator Coniglio said it is important to tap available resources now to help break the budget impasse.
“The Governor has asked us to offer our solutions and we believe this is a good one,” he said.
Senator Sarlo said he was confident the VLTs measure could be structured to avert the need for voters to have to sanction an expansion of gambling in New Jersey because the video terminals would be a form of lottery.
“These terminals would provide random winners based on pure chance so no constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters,” Senator Sarlo said.
Senator Coniglio stressed the importance of garnering support from the casino industry.
“We understand the importance of the casino industry in New Jersey,” Senator Coniglio said.
McNerney said he is confident the video lottery terminals would complement the economic development already underway at the Meadowlands.
“This opportunity will increase the diversity of entertainment options for untold thousands of people throughout the Bergen County region,” he said.