Measures Would Give Atlantic City Tools and Support Needed to Survive
TRENTON – Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, the Chair of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, and co-chair of the landmark Legislative Gaming Summit which developed a game plan for casino and racetrack stability and revitalization earlier this year, issued the following statement today after the Senate gave final legislative approval to a package of bills he sponsored to give Atlantic City’s casino industry the transformational reform needed to survive:
“Atlantic City’s casino industry is the lifeblood of the South Jersey economy, and a key engine in the entire State’s economic stability. However, despite their importance to our fiscal and economic well-being, New Jersey has, for far too many years, ignored the problems which have driven casinos to the brink of disaster.
“With the final legislative approval on these bills today, we’re taking a stand against the decay and stagnation of the casino industry, and hoping to turn around years of neglect and ignore the problem, hoping it would go away on its own. We’re giving Atlantic City the tools, support and resources needed to be a 21st Century gaming destination, rather than a relic of the recent past.
“There’s no question that the state of gaming in this country is changing, and our only choices are either adapt or become extinct. With increased competition from neighboring states, we cannot simply rely on Atlantic City’s reputation to help it pull through. We need new gaming products to attract new clientele, and that means restructuring the casino industry to encourage investment, both from the multi-million dollar casino operators and the weekend vacationers.
“I know that the legislation isn’t perfect, but we cannot waste time chasing the perfect set of bills while Atlantic City residents continue to deal with joblessness, economic hardship and financial ruin. The fact is that there may not be a single cure-all bill for the casino industry’s economic woes. But these bills lay a strong foundation on which to build, and will begin to put people back to work and reverse years of Atlantic City’s bad fortunes. It’s a good start, and I look forward to working with the Governor to implement these bills for the residents of Atlantic City and the South Jersey region.”
The first bill, S-11, which would create a special Atlantic City Tourism (ACT) District and expand marketing of the resort, was approved by a vote of 36-1, and the second bill, S-12, which would revise casino industry regulation, was approved by a vote of 32-2. Both bills now head to the Governor to be signed into law.