Right now, Atlantic City is the only municipality in New Jersey that allows for casinos. However, New Jersey lawmakers are once again introducing legislation that would end that monopoly.
Currently, there have been five bills introduced in the capital that would allow for casinos outside of Atlantic City. But that’s only if the bills are passed. For example, a proposed amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution would allow casino gambling to operate in the northern regions of New Jersey.
ACR45 was introduced by Assemblymen Jamel Holley (D-Union County) and Ralph Caputo (D-Essex County) and cosponsored by 13 others in the state senate. If passed, the bill would allow counties in northern New Jersey the right to submit a bid for a casino resort. Likewise, a portion of the tax money associated with ACR45 would be used to facilitate Atlantic City’s continued recovery.
However, even if the State Legislature passes ACR45 and Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signs it into law, voters across the state would still need to pass a ballot referendum to amend the state Constitution in November.
No Real Change for Atlantic City Yet
The bill is exactly the same one that was introduced prior to the presidential election in November 2016. As a matter of fact, the 2020 version of ACR45 has the wrong dates; it states that the legislation requires voter approval of the resolution during the election of November 2016.
Four years ago, the New Jersey Legislature did pass the bill, then called Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1 of 2016. The resolution proposed an amendment to the State Constitution allowing casinos in the northern regions of the state. Nonetheless, the voters were swayed by a vigorous lobbying effort opposing the resolution.
On the 2016 ballot, it was Public Question 1, the New Jersey Allowance for Casinos in Two Additional Counties Amendment. The question had a meager 22.76% support from voters. In fact, more than 2.4 million New Jersey voters said casinos should be limited to Atlantic City.
Assemblyman Caputo has stated there’s no reason to put the question up for a vote again.
At this point in time, we want to assure that Atlantic City is successful,” remarked Caputo. “I don’t want to encourage the expansion of casino gaming in the state just yet.
Caputo continued, “To be honest, the timing of the proposal isn’t good. We have to wait and see whether or not Atlantic City is going to be the rebound in the way that we would like.”
Among the other bills introduced by Caputo are two bills that would allow video gaming terminals to be installed at the Meadowlands horse racetrack. These bills are subject to voter approval.
Atlantic City Troubles
2020 will be a very important year for Atlantic City; the city will find out, once and for all, whether or not it can support nine casinos.
The overall number of workers employed by the casino resorts in Atlantic City decreased last year. The casinos pointed out this was simply a sizing adjustment. Also, the operators believe it is the right decision to ensure continued financial stability and long-term economic growth for everyone involved.
However, Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen complained publicly recently that Atlantic City is in worse shape now than when the Hard Rock bought into Atlantic City back in 2017. The owner of the Golden Nugget, Tilman Fertitta, also expressed similar concerns.
There’s currently an effort in Atlantic City, spearheaded by Resorts Casino owner Morris Bailey, to revise Atlantic City’s government. The plan is to replace the elected mayor with a hired municipal manager. However, Mayor Marty Small (D) views this as a “power grab.”