North Jersey Casinos Funding Plan Passes Committee

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo and Sheila Oliver that explicitly details how state funding derived from casinos in the northern part of the state will be used, including aid to specific seniors programs, funding for public space and transportation improvements and support for Atlantic City recovery initiatives.

“Transparency and clarity is critical for residents and all parties involved in the North Jersey casino debate, especially, as we move closer to November’s election,” said Caputo (D- Essex). “We have seen and heard many different opinions on this issue, both negative and positive. However, it is important that the Legislature’s intent for any funding coming out of a casino built in the north is spelled out clearly and as definitively as possible so that voters fully understand what they will be casting their vote for in November. With this resolution, our intent for the state portion of the funding from casinos in the northern part of the state will now be in writing and have an opportunity to be agreed upon by both houses.”

The measure (ACR-206) lays out the Legislature’s intent when it approved the North Jersey casino referendum (SCR-1) earlier this year, which proposes to amend the state constitution to authorize casino gambling in the northern part of the state and is to be considered by the voters at the November 2016 election.

“This ambitious casino expansion plan is about far more than promoting gaming in New Jersey,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic).  “Seniors, displaced Atlantic City workers, our thoroughbred horsing industry, and our transportation infrastructure are just some of the constituents and programs that will benefit from the influx in new revenue that this proposal will generate.  Voters should be aware of what is at stake when they cast their vote for this new course for our state.”

The concurrent resolution approved today details the distribution of state funds derived from casino gambling in the northern part of the state, which will include the following:

(1)  Provide funding for the recovery of Atlantic City through programs for job placement for displaced workers form previously closed casino properties in Atlantic City;

(2)  Provide funding to counties for public spaces and transportation and infrastructure improvements, with the funding allocations based on population and competitive criteria;

(3)  Provide funding to benefit senior citizens in the state through property tax reductions and vulnerable populations through programs administered by the counties;

(4)  Continue promotional support for Atlantic City as a destination resort;

(5)  For grants and loans to promote non-gaming development, attractions, and destination programming;

(6)  For programs designed to aid and encourage the thoroughbred and standard bred industries; and

(7)  For infrastructure and transportation improvements and airport enhancements.

The resolution also includes the intent of the Legislature to establish a tax rate considerably higher than the tax rate currently applied to revenues derived from casino gambling in Atlantic City, and to be tiered according to the amount of the investment made for each casino development.

Additionally, the measure includes various guidelines for choosing a location, selecting licensed operators, and the administration of programs to be funded from state revenues.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.