TRENTON – Lawmakers plan to host public hearings this year into the possibility of casino gaming at the Meadowlands.
Speaker Sheila Oliver, and Assembly members Ruben Ramos Jr. and Ralph Caputo announced their intent to at least explore the merits of bringing gaming to the Meadowlands. Ramos chairs the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, and Caputo is a member of that panel.
“Expanding gaming options to North Jersey would strengthen New Jersey against the competition in border states which has already lured customers away,” Ramos said in a release. “Any plan that could bring additional revenue to the state and create jobs deserves careful consideration.”
The announcement came on the day when Gov. Christie was in Atlantic City to celebrate the approval of the license for the Revel casino, Atlantic City’s first new casino in nearly a decade. Revel is set to officially open Monday morning.
After touring Revel this morning, Christie said in a release that “The completion of Revel and its opening is a turning point for Atlantic City and a clear sign that people once again have faith in the city’s ability to come back and be successful.
“Atlantic City is the engine of the local and regional economies and critical to the economic success of the state as a whole. Through job creation, increased tourism visits and development projects, our continuing efforts to revitalize the tourism and gaming economies in Atlantic City are getting positive results.”
But some lawmakers fear that gaming competition from other states will continue to harm some other areas of New Jersey.
Oliver said that “We need to at least discuss the idea of bringing casino-style gambling to the Meadowlands and whether it has the potential to create jobs, incentivize the local economy and position New Jersey’s gaming industry to better compete against the casinos that have cropped up in neighboring states. These are benefits worth exploring further.”
Caputo said he even supports a constitutional amendment and that voters should have a say in the matter. The lawmakers said they are working on scheduling the public hearings.
Christie said that in regards to Revel, that project will mean more than 10,000 jobs (over 5,000 of them permanent), over $153 million in payroll and $155 million in state and local taxes annually.
The administration last year signed S1866, a bipartisan measure that allowed casino licenses with a reduced minimum-bedroom requirement of 200 rooms from 500.
The proposed fiscal year 2013 budget has $290,000 for public safety in the Atlantic City Tourism District, which was established last year as well.