It seems that the opposition to the North Jersey casino expansion is stronger than ever, as Atlantic City residents and business owners gathered in Trenton on Monday to voice their concerns and criticisms of the bill that has been making its way through the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. There are multiple different concerns that have everyone worried, including those residents where the bill want to expand into.
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
One of the main concerns that business owners have is that no matter how the bill puts it, there will be too much competition in the near future. It used to be where a state would give a casino certain exclusivity in the area for a set period, but this will not happen presently. As Senator Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) stated on his concerns over the bill,
“We’re not going to [see] casinos in north Jersey have a 20-25 year monopoly. It will be a matter of years before New York City has casinos in Manhattan or in the Bronx. What Atlantic City is experiencing now, north Jersey will experience at that time.”
This means that even if the legislators were to move forward with the creation of two licenses in northern New Jersey, within a few years their monopoly would be lost, and they would be facing the same problems Atlantic City is facing right now. The resort town has already lost a quarter of its casinos, and along with it nearly 8,000 jobs in just two years.
Taxation Level Concerns
In order to pass this bill, an amendment would need to be made to the state constitution. This requires that there be a public ballot vote to happen, and would need to be approved by three-fifths of both chambers in order to actually pass. This is the first hurdle that needs to be jumped.
If the bill passes and becomes law, Atlantic City’s current casino owners would have the chance to bid on the North Jersey licenses first. However, if they do not want to bid, it would be open to operators from outside New Jersey borders; a second hurdle.
Legislators have said that there would $200 million in compensation from taxes are given to Atlantic City, but the taxation levels are still under review. This doesn’t sit well with most, not having a concrete number to decide on. President of Greater Atlantic City Chamber, Joe Kelly, said,
“We don’t know what kind of revenue will be returned to Atlantic City, we don’t know who it will be returned to or how it will work.”
Kelly also stated that this bill could lead to more casinos closing and roughly 14,000 jobs being lost. This bill will continue to get opposed for these valid reasons. Even billionaire investor Carl Icahn stated that if the bill passed, he would not invest $100 million into the Trump Taj Mahal, which desperately needs the cash to stay afloat. The public ballot vote would take place sometime in November, so the legislation has until then to get everyone on board, as it appears that it will fail with the amount of opposition it is getting.