New Jersey Debates Expanding Casinos To North Of StateFebruary 21, 2014 2:37 pm
Three years ago, New Jersey Governor Christie Christie had promised to give Atlantic City a five-year waiting period before exploring the possibility of permitting land-based casinos elsewhere in the state. However, as the Garden State continues to see its gambling industry sink further into the mire, several members of a state panel concerned with the future of NJ casinos have said now is the right time to pass a bill allowing casinos to be built in Northern New Jersey.
On Thursday’s ‘Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee’ hearing, which vetted the proposed gambling expansion bill, the bill’s supporters suggested Gov. Christie’s plan for Atlantic City should be re-assessed. During the heated debate Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (R-Essex) said that while Atlantic City’s struggling casino executives were waiting for state assistance, lawmakers should seriously consider allowing a casino in Bergen County, which is located in the northeastern corner of the state, and represents New Jersey’s most populous county with more than 900,000 people.
“We don’t want to destroy an industry. They can do that themselves. [Casino executives] don’t give one damn about anything but themselves. All they did was take money from that city. Now that the market is challenged, it’s up to us to try to assist. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at it honestly,” explained Ralph Caputo.
While Assemblyman Ralph Caputo was busy insisting Atlantic City would no longer return to its original form, others were adamant about allowing AC the fully promised five-year waiting period before taking such a drastic measure. Highlighting the dangerous message it would send to investors, Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-Atlantic), stated:
“Atlantic City is moving in the right direction. If we do the study now before we give the seeds of opportunity a chance to grow, it would be premature and would not be based off of the true picture of Atlantic City. How can we say we are truly trying to revitalize Atlantic City when we knowingly scare off the very investors we are spending so much time, money and energy with to invest in Atlantic City’s future?”
Other members in attendance expressed even stronger concerns, warning that Atlantic City’s already-struggling casino market would be destroyed by extending casino expansion to Bergen County.
In the end, no vote was taken on the bill during the ‘Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee’ hearing, although Ralph Caputo says he expects a vote to follow within a month.