Voters Would Be Asked To Approve Two Additional Casinos, To Expand Gaming, Revive Atlantic City, Support Seniors
TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney announced today that he has introduced legislation to put a public referendum on the ballot asking for voter approval to expand gaming in New Jersey with two casinos in the northern part of the state. The concurrent resolution, SCR-185, would have to be approved with three-fifths votes by both houses of the Legislature or majority votes twice over two legislative years before going to the voters. The legislative votes would have to be completed at least 90 days before going on the ballot.
The public’s approval is needed to amend the state’s constitutional provisions that now limit gaming in New Jersey to Atlantic City.
“The question of gaming outside of Atlantic City has long been debated,” said Senator Sweeney. “Now is the time for the voters to decide. Fourteen months ago I proposed a framework for any proposed expansion to North Jersey. This plan is consistent with those principles.”
The public revenue generated from the new facilities would be dedicated to senior citizens, the disabled, and to support the economic recovery of Atlantic City.
“Expanding gaming to North Jersey is the best way to revitalize an industry that is important to the state’s economy so that we can compete with neighboring states, generate the revenue needed to revive Atlantic City and contribute to economic growth,” said Senator Sweeney. “New Jersey tourism is one of the most important segments of our economy and gaming is one of the most important attractions for tourism. It is the source of good jobs and economic activity.”
Senator Sweeney’s proposal would direct millions of dollars per year back to Atlantic City to revive what is the Nation’s only beach gaming resort. The plan would require that the two new casinos, each in separate counties, be at least 75 miles away from Atlantic City.
Senator Sweeney also said that the new casinos will benefit the state’s economy by reviving a gaming sector that is a key part of the tourism industry.
“The people of Atlantic City, as well as the senior citizens and disabled are equal partners under this proposal,” said Senator Sweeney. “Its approval by the voters will ensure that the Atlantic City region and the seniors and disabled will benefit equally from the proposal to expand gaming in New Jersey.”
Since the inception of Atlantic City gaming in 1978, billions of dollars have been generated to aid senior citizens and the disabled. Casino revenues have also produced financial assistance in support of investments throughout the state, including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the YogiBerraMuseum and the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The decline in the Atlantic City casino industry has been marked by four casino closings in the past two years and a drop in revenue from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $3.0 billion in 2014.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Bob Gordon are cosponsors of SCR – 185.