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NJ To Vote On Casino Expansion

Published: March 15, 2016 9:27 am ET

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New Jersey's residents will have their say on casino expansion later this year after the state's Senate and Assembly both voted to include the question on the November ballot.

This state-wide referendum marks the first time in 40 years that New Jerseyans have been asked if Atlantic City should maintain its gaming monopoly.

A recent poll conducted by Rutgers-Eagleton suggested that the state is still divided on the issue, with 47 per cent of those surveyed in favour of maintaining the monopoly and 43 per cent in favour of expansion. Two years ago, that number was 47-43 on the side of expansion.

“This is not going to be an easy task,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, a longtime supporter of bringing expanded gaming to the Meadowlands Racetrack.

According to, the ballot question will require that any winning bid for a casino outside of Atlantic City must be operated by a current Atlantic City casino company, must be accompanied by a minimum $1 billion construction cost, and cannot be located within a 72-mile radius of Atlantic City. The Meadowlands has been tabbed by many as a front-runner but doesn't have a proposal for expanded gaming with a current Atlantic City operator.

Last June, New Meadowlands Racing and Hard Rock Entertainment unveiled plans for a casino at The Meadowlands. According to their research, released earlier this year, nearly three-fifths of potential voters favour a proposal to amend the state constitution to allow for the expansion, more than half identify the Meadowlands as their clear and overwhelming favourite location for a new casino, and there is clear voter preference for a proposal that does not limit the operation of new casinos only to those who are currently running casinos in Atlantic City.

The constitutional amendment proposed would direct some of the tax revenue to Atlantic City, while some would be used for programs and property tax relief. Legislation permitting the creation and operation of casinos would still need to be penned if the proposal is passed by the referendum.

Out-of-state gaming options to the Northeast border of New Jersey continue to rise with eight new casinos expected to open in the next three years. These Pennsylvania and New York locations would be geographically closer to North Jersey residents than Atlantic City.

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