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Poll: Should State Officials Bet on Expanding Gambling to North Jersey?

Is the smart money on building casinos in Jersey City and other points north? If so, what happens to Atlantic City?

The debate on whether -- and how -- to allow casino gambling in North Jersey seems to be at a standstill. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking: In order to open other parts of New Jersey to casinos, the Legislature must approve a change in the state constitution by January 11.

Most legislators, who watch gaming revenues move to New York and Pennsylvania, seem to want casinos and other gambling outlets outside of Atlantic City. But the question is “How?”

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) represents the interests of South Jersey but has agreed to legislation that would allow for two new casinos in North Jersey on two conditions. First, 50 percent of the profits must be sent to Atlantic City for its economic development. Second, licenses must be limited to existing Atlantic City casinos. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), who is representing the interests of North Jersey and in particular Jersey City, says 50 percent of profits is too much and wants to allow a new casino operator to be able to build a grand gambling palace on the Hudson, directly across from New York City. (Jersey City already has an interested operator who has promised to invest $5 billion in the deal.)

But what do you say?

How much gambling is optimal for New Jersey?

  • These guys sound like they think they’re running a planned economy. Why limit it to two casinos? Because some legislators want to shut the door to others after they get in? I say, let’s open up the state and carefully choose the best proposals as they come knocking. We need the revenue.

  • Why are we planning to send any money to Atlantic City? It’s not like the town didn’t have plenty of time to put gambling revenues to good use for the past few decades. But they blew it and finding ways to try to save it is just a waste of money. If we want successful casinos, you need to put gambling where people are -- which is North Jersey. Let AC fix itself.

  • It seems to me that the North/South Jersey divide is rearing its head again. The Assembly proposal is quite generous -- 50 percent of the first $300 million in profits. Why can’t they -- and the Meadowlands – welcome the best proposals, regardless of whether they already operate in Atlantic City? Sounds like any casino operator that avoided AC made a smart decision. South Jersey has to recognize that it doesn’t have the money or the votes to win this battle.

  • Sweeney is right to try and preserve as much as possible for Atlantic City. We have major problems in that city and if we don’t find ways to fix them, it’s guaranteed to become a major drain on state resources. Even Prieto realizes that. The last thing we need is casinos in the north directly competing with those in AC. The Sweeney proposal seems to protect that from happening and found some money for economic development. It should be a win-win.

  • I don’t think that the state should be relying on gambling revenues, period. Gambling is wrong. What’s more, we’ll be building massive casinos and then the market will change again -- who knows to what. Maybe it will all move online. And then we’ll have empty Revel-like buildings next to Liberty State Park -- or continue our nightmare in the Meadowlands.

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