The Greater Atlantic City Chamber is looking to its members and area residents to build opposition to a plan to expand gambling into North Jersey.
Numerous New Jersey officials, including the entire state Senate Budget Committee, were sent emails this week by Chamber officials containing a link to the chamber’s “action center,” which includes the beginning of an anti-casino message.
The message begins by urging all “responsible public officials” to vote against the addition of the referendum to the state’s ballot this year, which if successful, would change the state Constitution to allow two casinos in the northern part of the state. A hearing on the proposed ballot referendum has been scheduled by the Budget Committee for Monday in Trenton. The Atlantic City Chamber is also encouraging all opposed to attend the Budget Committee hearing at the Statehouse Annex. The Chamber’s legislative affairs director, Bob Marshall said that he and Chamber president Joe Kelly had “been up there multiple times already,” but that everyone who’s going to be affected by the bill needs to be at the hearing, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
A link to the online action center was sent chamber’s database of approximately 1,000 members. After a brief start, ample room is provided in the message for website visitors to add their own thoughts on the issue.
Competing plans for casinos outside of Atlantic City had been sponsored by State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. Last month Governor Chris Christie announced a compromise. The legislation allows for two casinos in north Jersey at least 72 miles away from Atlantic City. The potential locations aren’t specified.
Some gaming analysts and industry officials predict that if New Jersey allows the two new casinos they could actually become some of the most successful in the United States. They would face competition from Atlantic City casinos as well as those in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. While the legislation doesn’t specify locations for the two casinos, the two options most often mentioned are Jersey City, where a casino proposal worth upwards of $5 billion is proposed by footwear magnate Paul Fireman, and the Meadowlands Racetrack in east Rutherford.
While the substantial taxes that would be generated from the new casinos would provide a shot in the arm to the state’s economy some think the last thing Atlantic City needs is more competition from within its own borders.