Sweeney: With Gaming Summit Over, Task Now Turns To Legislation To Keep Casinos Competitive & Tracks Open

Stakeholder Input From Three Sessions to Drive Legislative Push; Senate to Take Up First AC-Related Bill Thursday

TRENTON – At the close of today’s final meeting of the Legislative Gaming Summit, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said the ideas put forward during the three sessions would now be woven into long-range solutions that will allow Atlantic City to remain competitive and protect the thousands of residents employed at New Jersey’s horse-racing tracks.

Sweeney said he is directing Senate staff to work alongside the Assembly to draft and finalize legislation that can be implemented swiftly to ensure momentum is not lost.

“Over the past eight weeks, we’ve heard countless ideas and concerns from the people whose livelihoods rely on a strong and stable gaming industry, whether they work in Atlantic City’s casinos or at one of the horse tracks,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “We can’t afford to let even one job hang and twist in the wind. We have momentum coming from this summit that we cannot lose.”

As a first step, Sweeney said the Senate tomorrow will vote on legislation (S-1866) Senator Jim Whelan – a co-chair of the Gaming Summit – sponsored to begin a pilot program to allow two small-scale casinos of at least 200 rooms to be constructed in Atlantic City. The summit heard testimony from some developers that the resort’s current 500-room threshold has been a barrier to investment and entry.

Earlier this year, Hard Rock International – which operates four Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos around the country – expressed its interest in investing upwards of $300 million to build in Atlantic City should the lower room threshold become law.

“Legislation already introduced and cleared by committee shouldn’t wait, especially when investors are ready to bring new money and jobs to Atlantic City,” said Sweeney.

Sweeney stressed that the summit’s legacy would be built on actions that would benefit the entire state.

“By the time all is said and done, I am confident we will see the enactment of a comprehensive plan that will restore and protect New Jersey’s preeminence as a gaming and entertainment destination,” said Sweeney. “Most importantly, we will enact a plan that will keep hardworking people in the thousands of jobs our casinos and race tracks support. With talks over, we now have to act. Failure is not a option.”

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