The campaign to approve expanding casino gambling in New Jersey is down but not out.
As voter support fades for a state constitutional amendment to allow casinos in North Jersey, an Assembly committee will consider a nonbinding resolution Thursday morning that aims to clarify the Legislature’s intention.
One of the main critiques of the ballot question was that it did not specify tax rates for the new casinos, exact locations or how the tax revenue would be distributed.
The new resolution, sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, says the Legislature’s intent is to tax the new casinos at a substantially higher rate than the casinos in Atlantic City, provide training for unemployed Atlantic City casino workers and use a portion of the revenue to develop Atlantic City, but there are no specifics given within the resolution for any of the programs.
Voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to approve as many as two new casinos. The ballot question states the new casinos must be in separate counties and at least 72 miles from Atlantic City, where four casinos closed in 2014 and another, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, closed Monday.
According to a Stockton University poll conducted in late September, 68 percent of those polled oppose the amendment.
On Wednesday, Politico NJ reported that opponents of the ballot question had spent more than $11 million in their campaign against casino expansion, including $2 million from the wife of Resorts Casino Hotel owner Morris Bailey and a holding company associated with the property.
Resorts’ involvement in the fight against casino expansion had not previously been reported, according to Politico, but its president and CEO Mark Giannantonio has spoken out against the proposal.
Jeff Gural, operator of the Meadowlands Racetrack, has said he is still committed to building a casino at the site and hopes the measure could come back in 2018 if it’s defeated this year. Gural looked to partner with Hard Rock International to build a 650,000- square-foot property that featured 200 gambling tables and 5,000 slot machines at the site.
Gural and Paul Fireman, another developer looking to build a casino, spent about $8.5 million through the pro-casino expansion group Our Turn NJ, according to The Associated Press.
While supporters of casino expansion say it would benefit Atlantic City, Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, disagreed.
ATLANTIC CITY — The approval of casinos in North Jersey could have a grave impact on the Sou…
“Our middle-class families and retirees deserve better than the latest gimmick by Assemblyman (Caputo), which is simply the same old song with a different verse,” Brown said Wednesday. “It still fails to provide a specific tax rate and fails to answer how cannibalizing Atlantic City’s gaming market … will somehow help Atlantic County’s working families and retirees.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.