No Cash, No Problem: Roads to Atlantic City Going Cashless As Early As 2024

The highways leading to Atlantic City, the renowned gambling destination in New Jersey, are undergoing a significant transformation that’s similar to the gambling sector’s evolution. Just as casino slot machines shifted from coins to cards, the highways of Atlantic City are going fully cashless.

The process of going cashless is expected to make the journey smoother and more convenient, reflecting the modernization seen in casino gaming. As toll booths become digital and cashless, it aligns with the trend of using technology for easier transactions.

E-ZPass, introduced in 1998, offers toll discounts on the Atlantic City Expressway. In 2023, 87% of toll transactions were cashless, as reported by the South Jersey Transportation Authority. A recent report from the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) reveals that in 2022, approximately 47 million motorists traveled the Expressway, with 6.3 million opting for traditional cash tolls.

The upcoming fully cashless system, set for 2024 and 2025, depending on the route, enhances convenience for motorists and reflects the growing trend toward digital transactions on roads leading to Atlantic City.

This shift aligns with the modernization seen in various aspects of our daily transactions. The transition to a fully cashless system is not just about convenience; it’s also aimed at improving safety. The move is anticipated to decrease traffic accidents, a concern that has been particularly evident in recent years near the traditional toll booth structures located just outside of Atlantic City.

To enhance the travel experience, the existing ramp toll booths are set to be replaced with state-of-the-art toll equipment gantries. These structures will span the entire length of the expressway, ensuring a smooth transition to a fully cashless system. 

For those without an E-ZPass account, a convenient “bill-by-plate” invoice system will be introduced, eliminating the need for cash payments and embracing a more modern and efficient approach to toll collection.

This groundbreaking project, spearheaded by the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), comes with a significant investment of nearly $80 million. As the first of its kind in the state, the all-electronic toll collection system is poised to revolutionize toll processes, providing a streamlined and efficient experience for motorists.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) has given the green light to a game-changing $159.3 million contract with TransCore LP of Nashville, Tennessee. This marks a significant milestone in the implementation of the all-electronic toll system on the Atlantic City Expressway. 

TransCore LP is set to take the reins in constructing and overseeing the tolling infrastructure, bringing their expertise to the table for what is anticipated to be a 15-year project.

Lots of changes expected for New Jersey gamblers

The horse racing industry in New Jersey, facing declining attendance and revenues, is grappling with the challenge of remaining viable in a changing landscape. Amidst this struggle, racetrack casinos, commonly known as “racinos,” have emerged as a potential lifeline for the industry. 

Racinos have witnessed significant growth, with more than three dozen establishments opening in 11 states since 1992. Patrons are increasingly drawn to racinos, where they can try their luck with slot machines, providing a new source of revenue for the tracks.

The appeal of these hybrid venues lies in the combination of horse racing and casino gaming, offering a diversified entertainment experience. In 2022, racinos generated $3.6 billion in gross gaming revenues, marking a 16% increase from 2005 and contributing $1.4 billion in state and local taxes.

The financial injection from racinos has proven crucial for the survival of racetracks, allowing them to enhance purses and stay competitive in an industry facing challenges. Now, New Jersey wants to introduce slots in racinos, which would diversify incomes even further.

As the state contemplates this strategic move, the delicate balance between preserving the tradition of horse racing and embracing innovative revenue streams comes into sharp focus. The outcome of this initiative is poised to shape the future trajectory not only of racetracks but also of the broader casino landscape in the Garden State.

As the curtains rise on New Jersey’s legislative agenda for 2024, the state finds itself at the intersection of gaming and advertising with two significant bills taking center stage. In tandem with the recent proposal to introduce slot machines at racetracks, Senator Joseph Cryan also introduced Senate Bill 2156 not too long ago, aiming to regulate the advertising landscape for casinos and sportsbooks.

Senator Joseph Cryan’s Senate Bill 2156 delves deeper into the nuances of gaming advertising by outlining specific circumstances and guidelines for promotional activities. One of the key focal points is the imperative to ensure responsible marketing practices within the gaming industry.

Under the proposed legislation, gaming interests, including casino licensees and sports wagering licensees, along with their contracted operators, would be mandated to take measures preventing their marketing materials from reaching individuals on the state’s self-excluded list or those below the legal gaming age. 

This crucial step aligns with broader efforts to prioritize consumer protection and maintain the integrity of gaming activities. Furthermore, the bill empowers the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to play a pivotal role in enforcing these regulations. It calls for the division to formulate rules aimed at restricting advertisements made by gaming entities if those promotions are deemed fraudulent or deceptive.

These restrictions would also come into play if advertisements are directed at individuals on the self-exclusion list or if they appeal directly to individuals who are underage for gambling or wagering activities.

In essence, Senate Bill 2156 is a proactive move to establish clear boundaries, ensuring that gaming advertising remains transparent, ethical, and compliant with regulations. 

By addressing these specific circumstances, the bill aims to create an environment where responsible marketing practices go hand in hand with the thriving gaming industry in New Jersey.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, New Jersey is navigating a transformative landscape, not only on its highways but also within its gaming industry. The shift to fully cashless tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway reflects the broader trend of digital evolution, enhancing convenience and safety for travelers to this renowned gambling destination.

Simultaneously, the state is contemplating groundbreaking changes in its gaming landscape. The introduction of slots at racetracks, or “racinos,” represents a strategic move to bolster the horse racing industry by embracing innovative revenue streams. As the industry contends with declining attendance, the marriage of horse racing and casino gaming at racinos proves to be a potential lifeline, injecting financial boost while ensuring competitiveness.

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