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Van Drew Urges Governor To Reject VLT Proposal

Senator Says VLTs Would “Put a Knife in the Heart” of Atlantic City’s Casino Industry

TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew today sent a letter to Governor Christie urging him to reject any proposal to allow video lottery terminals at racetracks in New Jersey, warning that such a move would devastate New Jersey’s already struggling casino industry.

“Creating gaming competition within the state would drastically reduce state tax revenue generated by casinos. It would depress travel to Atlantic City and, more importantly, send the message that New Jersey has abandoned support for the resort city,” wrote Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “We cannot afford to hamper recovery with short-sighted ventures that create competing gaming interests and pit one region of the state against another.”

The letter is in response to recent published reports detailing a proposal submitted to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Gaming, Sports and Entertainment by a group that wants to add 5,000 video slot machines to the Meadowlands racetrack in exchange for paying the state $600 million. Submission of the plan to the advisory panel by Global Enterprises Meadowlands group has prevented its public inspection.

VLTs have long been discussed as a means to prop up the state’s horse racing industry. Lawmakers from the region, however, have contended that the state should focus its casino gaming in Atlantic City.

Senator Van Drew acknowledged the state’s racetracks deserve attention. He said he would work with the governor on initiatives to sustain them; however he would not do so at the expense of the casino industry.

“While the casino industry is challenged, installing VLTs at racetracks would certainly put a knife in the heart of it,” Senator Van Drew wrote to the governor. “In the interests of my constituents in South Jersey, and of the residents of the entire state of New Jersey, I will strongly oppose VLTs at any location outside of Atlantic City. I urge you, respectfully, to reject any such proposal.”

The full letter to the governor is below:

April 26, 2010

The Honorable Christopher J. Christie

Governor

State of New Jersey

State House

Trenton, NJ 08625

Dear Governor Christie,

I am alarmed by a recent proposal presented to your Advisory Commission on Gaming, Sports and Entertainment to install video lottery terminals at a location outside of Atlantic City.

Due to gaming competition from neighboring states, the casino industry in Atlantic City already faces tremendous challenges. The dismal state of the national economy has caused further hardship, resulting in a series of setbacks to economic development projects. This year alone, two major casino operators pulled out of Atlantic City, while a developer was left scrambling to secure funding to complete a project after losing financial backing.

There is no question that Atlantic City has experienced a difficult year. I am confident, however, that as the national economy rebounds, so too will our premier gaming city. But this will only occur with support from state leaders.

The recently reported proposal by Global Enterprises Meadowlands to offer a one-time $600 million payment to install 5,000 video lottery terminals at the Meadowlands Racetrack and to operate the facility would devastate Atlantic City’s casino industry.

Further, the proposal would do nothing to solve New Jersey’s fiscal woes.

Creating gaming competition within the state would drastically reduce state tax revenue generated by casinos. It would depress travel to Atlantic City and, more importantly, send the message that New Jersey has abandoned support for the resort city.

We cannot afford to hamper recovery with short-sighted ventures that create competing gaming interests and pit one region of the state against another.

New Jersey’s racetracks deserve attention. We want to create thriving industries at both ends of the gaming spectrum; however, we cannot cannibalize our own casino industry.

Atlantic City’s gaming industry supports tens of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly. It generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue for the state and supports businesses throughout the region. We cannot place that in jeopardy.

While the casino industry is challenged, installing VLTs at racetracks would certainly put a knife in the heart of it. In the interests of my constituents in South Jersey, and of the residents of the entire state of New Jersey, I will strongly oppose VLTs at any location outside of Atlantic City. I urge you, respectfully, to reject any such proposal.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue. I look forward to working with you to strengthen the state’s economy to benefit all of New Jersey.

Sincerely,

Jeff Van Drew

Senator 1st District

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