TRENTON – As the competition for potential future casinos continues to furiously swirl around North Jersey, state Senator and former Governor Richard Codey (D-27) posed a theory about why competing casino sites in Newark, Jersey City and the Meadowlands region are now vying to gamble on the gaming industry. Hint: the source comes from a place where Eagles soar above both Jets and Giants.
“A lot of this is inspired by South Jersey. It’s contrived,” said Codey, seconds after chatting with state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), the prominent South Jersey politician, potential 2017 Democratic gubernatorial candidate and longtime ally of South Jersey power broker George Norcross III, in between committee meetings at the State House in Trenton. “They want to make the case that there shouldn’t be a referendum this November.”
Codey’s referendum reference points to a recent legislative effort by another Essex County-based legislator, state Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28). Caputo, a former casino executive, is a co-sponsor of a resolution to introduce a proposed constitutional amendment to allow casinos outside of South Jersey and into the North Jersey counties of Bergen, Essex and Hudson if approved by both the state Legislature and then the voters in a statewide referendum.
But Codey indicated to PolitickerNJ that somehow, some way, South Jersey’s powers that be want to derail any such referendum.
“If every town wants a casino, and every county wants a casino, and we’re not on the same page as to where, how can you do a referendum? [South Jersey] doesn’t want it on the map,” Codey asked. “It gives [South Jersey] a reason to postpone a referendum. The competition hurts the chances for a casino [in North Jersey] already. The voters will say that this is way over the top. It’s ridiculous. But I still don’t know if [North Jersey] is fighting amongst themselves necessarily. It’s South Jersey, and others, hoping that they will fight amongst themselves.”
Sweeney could not immediately be reached for comment.