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Sweeney’s Key Expansion Components

Published: July 29, 2014 11:11 am ET

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In an opinion piece published late last week, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney discussed some of his thoughts regarding potential gaming expansion in the state outside of Atlantic City. One of the key components he listed was that current Atlantic City owners and operators that have invested in New Jersey should have the first opportunity to own and/or operate any new facility.

Sweeney’s opinion piece was published by The Bergen Record. Three days later, On Monday, July 28, The Bergen Record ran a piece which divulged some key details regarding racetrack operator Jeff Gural’s 2011 deal with the New Jersey government to save and operate the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, located in the north end of the state.

It was explained in the Monday piece that Gural’s deal has a clause that would give Gural the ability to get out of his lease and receive a settlement of roughly $100 million if he is not named the operator of any casino built at the Meadowlands complex. The settlement amount would reimburse Gural for the capital spent on the construction of the new grandstand at the Meadowlands and the interest associated with it. Gural has made it known that he wants to land a casino at the Meadowlands and have it located right beside the new grandstand he built.

It was officially announced in April of 2013 that Gural’s New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC reached a long-term agreement with Hard Rock International. The deal saw Hard Rock make an undisclosed equity investment in New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC. The deal also extends to any projected future developments at the racetrack. Hard Rock has had its Atlantic City café location in operation since 1996.

Sweeney’s other key components regarding New Jersey gaming expansion outside of Atlantic City include minimizing the cannibalization of Atlantic City by allowing ‘convenience gaming’ establishments, not destination resorts; ensuring that 25 per cent of the taxes on non-AC casinos be funnelled back to Atlantic City; and ensuring that jobless casino employees should have the right of first employment at any new gaming facility.

(With files from The Bergen Record)


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