Gov. Chris Christie favors expanding casinos to Northern New Jersey, he told 101.5 FM’s Eric Scott Wednesday night on Ask the Governor.
Below is a transcript of the exchange. Scott is in bold print and the governor italicized.
There was some talk over the last couple of days about an announcement next week between Hardrock and Meadowlands Racetrack on a proposal for a casino at the Meadowlands, its interesting when you look at this there are a couple of analysts that say that this could be the most successful casino in the country if its allowed to be build. Have you looked at the proposal? Whats your thought on putting a casino there?
No one has presented that proposal to me yet, I’ve read about it in the paper as you have. But no one has presented it to me yet. Listen, I’ve heard, you know, rumblings from the legislature that they want to put the question on the ballot of expanding gaming to the northern part of the state. I’ve said before, I would favor that as long as theres a part of it is helping to take care of Atlantic City as well, so that some of the revenue there could be used to help our continued efforts at revitalizing Atlantic City. I have absolutely no problem with that question going on the ballot right away, because the competition is only going to grow in New York in particular. So if we could plant our flag firmly in the ground in the northern part of the state I think that would make the project even more successful. So even though I have no role in the process because of the constitutional amendment the governor doesn’t play a role in it, but I certainly would be publicly supportive of getting this question done as quickly as we could so that we can proceed to expanding if that’s the will of the people, they need to decide whether or not to amend the constitution to expand gaming beyond Atlantic City. I think that given the competition around us, it would be the right thing to do. Again, as long as there is a provision to have some of the revenue used to help Atlantic City and the workers down there who have lost their jobs because of the downsizing, whether that’s allowing them to have jobs, you know, right of first refusal of the jobs in the northern casinos if they want to move or something that would help them advance their career given that many of them have lost their jobs in Atlantic City due to the expected downsizing of the casino industry there given the competition that’s all around us.
Would that be part of the role that your administration would take? If the legislator approves and amends the constitution with the voters is that something that your administration would take a role in to work those jobs programs, to talk about whatever infrastructure would be needed, would you be okay with the Meadowlands? There has been some talk about Jersey City or some other locations as well, but does it make the most sense to be in the Meadowlands?
I don’t have a favorite in terms of that. I really don’t, because I think that, one, to answer the first part of your question, of course we would take a role in whatever enabling legislation there was to set the rules and all the rest after the constitution was amended, in that they would need the governors assent and signature on any bill and I would be happy to work with the Speaker and Jon Bramnick and the Senate President and Tom Kean, Jr. in order to put together some bi-partisan legislation that would make it the best it can be. I certainly wouldn’t take any favorites without seeing all of the plans in detail to be able to then understand or at least to form an opinion of which plan is best for the State of New Jersey, and thats what would be our guide post in terms of where it would go and I certainly wouldn’t express an opinion that’s just based upon geography. I don’t know all that would go into it; what kind of facility is going to be built? How will it attract them in other ways? Theres all different kinds of things that would go into it, but for me, I would certainly have no objection to the legislature, you know, acting, as quickly as the will was there to act. If that’s this year and this years ballot then that’s fine by me, because then at least we would know what we were doing. The people would have the right to speak out and we’d know are we going to expand gaming to the northern part of the state or aren’t we, and then if we decided we would its about sitting down with the legislature and negotiating the terms of that to make sure that Atlantic City was helped in the process and to make sure that we would maximize the opportunity for the taxpayers in this state and for the gamers in this state who want to participate to make it the best possible opportunity we could.