New Jersey currently allows casinos to operate only in Atlantic City but lawmakers will now have to decide on whether they should change the rules and allow more casinos to be constructed outside of Atlantic City.
The casino industry in Atlantic City has faced a market saturation in 2014 as casinos reported a drop in customers and a reduction in the average customer spend. Four casinos went out of business in Atlantic City during 2013 and 2014 and many struggled to beat the sluggish market and post profits.
New Jersey’s casino industry appears to be losing a portion of its market to casinos in neighbouring states as New Jersey gamblers now have the option of travelling across the border and playing at casinos in Pennsylvania or New York. The New Jersey gaming commission is looking for ways to revive Atlantic City’s struggling casino industry and wants to keep neighbouring states from luring New Jersey’s gamblers across the border.
Lawmakers in New Jersey are currently considering a resolution that will allow casinos to operate outside of Atlantic City and are debating the possibility of licensing up to three casinos to operate in North Jersey. They believe that these three new casinos which will be situated in places like Meadowland and Jersey City will significantly reduce the number of gamblers going across the border.
Should legislators approve the resolution, it will be placed on the November ballot for further debate and consideration. One of the topics that will be debated will be with regard to the timing of approving three new casinos and the specific laws that will govern these three casinos outside of Atlantic City. Assemblymen Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood and Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson are in favour of approving three new casinos outside of Atlantic City and want the state government to make a decision quickly to stop Pennsylvania and New York from capitalizing on New Jersey gambling revenue.
Assemblymen Ralph Caputo acknowledged that the government has to consider a number of issues before making a decision to allow casinos outside of Atlantic City. He stated that many New Jersey residents do not visit Atlantic City casinos and don’t gamble but still remain sentimental about Atlantic City. They do not want to see the casino industry in Atlantic City perish and might not be in favour of taking the casino industry outside Atlantic city.
However, Caputo also stated that thousands of casinos employees have lost their jobs in Atlantic City during the last 18 months as four top casinos were forced to shutdown. Caputo said that if New Jersey allowed three new casinos to be constructed, then these unemployed casino employees will be given first preference when it comes to hiring new employees. Hard Rock International has already stated its intention of investing close to $1 billion to construct a casino in the Meadowlands and create over 5000 jobs once it goes live.
Yet not everyone shares Caputo’s view of allowing casinos to operate outside of Atlantic City. In a statement, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, said “It’s disruptive to talk about casinos in North Jersey while South Jersey families are still reeling from having their jobs, health care and stability taken away, and while Atlantic County, Atlantic City and our schools are still feeling the hit. I will not support any attempt to amend our constitution to open casinos in the Meadowlands or Jersey City or anywhere outside Atlantic City, and I will definitely work against having such a question rushed through rushed through to beat a ballot deadline.”
The mayor of Atlantic City is also opposed to the idea of taking the casino industry outside his city and states that such a move could be disastrous for Atlantic City and could make the market extremely weak.