State Assembly Democrats in New Jersey announced on Monday a plan to add a question to the ballot in 2016 asking voters if they want to amend the state constitution to allow casinos in the northern part of the state. As of now, casinos are limited to Atlantic City.
The plan by the Assembly is different than the plan announced Friday by the State Senate. One difference is that the Assembly plan would allocate less money in taxes to assist Atlantic City, which is just beginning to stabilize. The plan proposes two gambling halls in the north – one would be operated by an Atlantic City gambling concern. The plan would also allow companies who do not have a casino in Atlantic City to apply for a single casino license in the northern area of the state.
The two proposals mean that leaders in each house of the state legislature will need to come to an agreement if the issue is going to be placed on the November ballot. The Senate and Assembly will both have to approve the same plan for the proposal to move forward for a vote by citizens. The constitution of the state currently allows gambling in Atlantic City only. The city is struggling, with four casinos closing in 2014 and thousands of jobs lost.
Friday’s resolution was revealed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and would have voters choose whether or not to approve casinos in two different counties which would be located at least 75 miles away from Atlantic City. The plan introduced by the Assembly includes the same stipulations.
The current Senate Plan does differ as it places almost half of the tax revenue created from the new casinos to go towards Atlantic City for 15 years. The Assembly plan would place 63% of the state tax revenues from the gaming venues towards two different places for the first fifteen years of operation. Half of the percentage would go towards disabled individuals and seniors, something that Atlantic City already does. The other half would go towards aid for the state to each county and municipality of the state.
After that, a 35% amount would go to help Atlantic City recover. Any additional percentage would go towards the horse racing industry, which is also struggling. In May Gov. Chris Christie said he could get behind a northern casino proposition that would benefit Atlantic City.
The hope by some lawmakers is that a unified plan will be created by the end of the current legislative year which will end on the 11th of January. After this time frame, proponents of casinos in North Jersey would have to get 10 additional votes in 2016 to have the question placed on the ballot come November.
Earlier this month, Senate Democrats announced they were working on a percentage solution to aid Atlantic City while expanding gambling in the state.