Atlantic County Mayors Association Opposes Any North Jersey Casino Plans
The Atlantic County Mayors Association recently voted to oppose the initiative to bring casinos to North Jersey. The association opposes any New Jersey casino building outside of Atlantic City, saying such initiatives would undermine decades of investment in the resort city.
The meeting was held on the evening of Friday, August 1. The mayors not only discussed a resolution against the opening of any casinos outside of the traditional gaming enclave of Atlantic City, but also supports a moratorium on discussions of a North Jersey casino.
Atlantic City Needs Time to Recalibrate Economy
Recently, New Jersey politicians have been discussing the idea of placing a casino in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in the northern Bergen County. New Jersey State Assemblyman Chris Brown of Atlantic City drafted a resolution recently saying that a casino anywhere but Atlantic City would be “devastating” to the Atlantic City economy, particularly at this crucial time, when it is seeking ot diversify revenue streams more in focus with traditional tourism and entertainment. The city hopes to place less emphasis on casino gambling for its tourist trade, which would allow it to transition to a more balanced local economy.
Chris Brown attended the mayors association meeting, along with Atlantic County Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica. The various civic and political leaders came to a unanimous decision to support the proposed resolution.
Casino Industry Affects All Nearby Cities
Jack Glasser, the mayor of Somers Point, is the president of the association. Mayor Glasser says casino tourism in Atlantic City directly affects all the cities and townships in the county. Many casino workers live in the outlying towns, so anything which affects the Boardwalk casinos also effects their residents. Also, tourists to Atlantic City spend time at area beaches and spend cash in area businesses and restaurants, so the wider business community of Atlantic County is affected by the ups-and-downs of Atlantic City casinos.
Glasser told the Press of Atlantic City, “If the Atlantic City casino industry plummets, we lose residents who are forced into unemployment, forced to move elsewhere, forced to take their children out of schools. Our local businesses suffer; it’s a trickle-down effect.”
Casino Association Study on Economic Impact
The Casino Association of New Jersey recently conducted a study on the economic impact on Atlantic City of building a casino in the Meadowlands. According to the Casino Association’s study, building a casino in North Jersey would cause a 45% decline in revenues for the casinos of Atlantic City.
The researchers concluded that building a casino in the Meadowlands ultimately would cost the state of New Jersey 3,800 jobs and $190 million in payroll. Such a developmet would also divert approximately $45 million per year in services for seniors and disabled in the state
Building Consensus on the County and State Level
Armed with these statistics, Assemblyman Chris Crown says the Mayors Association’s goal is to educate the public about the detrimental effect of a North Jersey casino on the overall economy of the state. He believes the people of New Jersey will support their side of the argument, if they learn such information. The Atlantic County Mayors Association wants to educate people that building in the north would be a disaster for Atlantic City, but also a bad move for the state of New Jersey, too.
Brown says he wants to build a coalition of bipartisan support in Atlantic City and its neighboring communities, and then start building consensus throughout the state.
Brown added, “I reached out to the municipalities to build support on the issue. Too many people are depending on the success of Atlantic City for their livelihood.”
Steve Sweeney: A Different Vision
Not every New Jersey politician has the same vision, of course. Recently, New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney wrote an op-ed piece for the Press of Atlantic City. In his open letter to the people of the state, he gave a plan for how a North Jersey casino could help Atlantic City, along with the people of New Jersey.
Steve Sweeney presents a much different picture. He wants to tax the Meadowlands Casino in such a way that Atlantic City would be provided with over $1 billion in tax revenues over the next ten years. This would help Atlantic City with its transition to a non-gambling economy, while helping the state better compete with New York and Pennsylvania for gaming primacy in the region. Sweeney plans to give preference to the longtime casino operators of Atlantic City, when it comes time to license a developer for the Meadowlands casino.
Sweeney sees the North Jersey plan as an inevitability, so he wants the people of Atlantic City to face reality and make the best alternate plan they can. The people of Atlantic County now have to decide whether to acquiesce and accept a bit over $1 billion over the next 10 years, or fight and try to keep something closer to $1.9 billion of gaming revenues in the area.
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