The debate to introduce two new casinos in North Jersey continues to heat up as the pros and cons of this move was once again discussed in an Assembly committee hearing on the 7th of March 2016. This was the 5th time that this single topic was discussed in detail as New Jersey legislators continue to search for ways to revive the state’s gambling industry.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex is one of the biggest advocates for the introduction of the two North Jersey casinos which will most likely be constructed in Jersey City and the Meadowlands. Caputo is pushing for a November statewide ballot of introducing casinos outside of Atlantic City as he believes the tax revenue generated from the two new casinos can be used to help Atlantic City’s casino industry.
There is a proposal being discussed to impose a gambling tax between forty to sixty percent on the two new North Jersey casinos. Caputo wants up to $200 million in gambling taxes to be sent to a not-for-profit organization in Atlantic City who will push for the development of non-gambling activities in Atlantic City casinos. Caputo believes that an emphasis on non-gaming activities will help to boost Atlantic City casino revenues.
His views are not supported by Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic who believes that stripping Atlantic City of its exclusive right to operate casinos in the Garden State will do more harm than good for the city and its struggling casino industry. Brown remains sceptical over the North Jersey casino proposal because he is not clear on how the two casinos will generate the amount of revenue that Caputo has estimated. Brown also wants clarification on how the two new casinos will help in creating jobs in Atlantic City.
The bill is being sponsored by 17 out of the 48 democratic Assembly members including the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee Gary Schaer and speaker Vincent Prieto of Secaucus. The bill will most likely obtain the required 60 percent vote and gain approval as it has already been given a 33-6 vote in the state senate last week.
In a statement, Prieto said “I’ve long said North Jersey gaming was a matter of when, not if, and with this proposal, voters will get the chance to strengthen our state’s financial future. This bill does the right thing for both Atlantic City and our senior and disabled residents.”
Legislators will first have to decide on a fixed tax rate for the two casinos before submitting the bill for a full floor vote in the Assembly which will take place before the end of this month.