Two bills to permit temporary casinos at the Meadowlands Racetrack in Bergen County are under consideration by an Assembly committee scheduled to meet Thursday.
One would allow slot machines and table games to be played at the Meadowlands for one week prior to the Super Bowl in 2014. The second introduces a constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to authorize temporary casinos at the Meadowlands for a “limited duration.”
Both Assembly bills were introduced in September and are scheduled to be discussed by the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee in Trenton on Thursday. They are being sponsored by North and Central Jersey legislators.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, who serves as vice chairman of the committee, said the bills will be discussed but he did not believe they would be voted on at the meeting. He said he did not believe the bills would proceed beyond discussion at the meeting.
“It’s really not practical,” Burzichelli said of the prospect of temporary casinos.
Lawmakers have discussed the possibility of expanding casino gambling beyond Atlantic City, however Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, have said they will block such efforts in the short-term.
They said they want to give Atlantic City time to benefit from casino deregulation laws enacted in February 2011. Christie has said he wants five years to elapse before expanding casino gambling beyond Atlantic City.
Some legislators, with the support of horseracing officials, have argued that by waiting, the state is losing gambling tax revenue to neighboring jurisdictions where casinos have proliferated, such as Pennsylvania and New York. In recent years, Pennsylvania’s gambling revenue has exceeded that of New Jersey. The state also taxes gambling revenue at higher rates than New Jersey’s flat 8 percent.
Earlier this year, the Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee scheduled a hearing at the Meadowlands to discuss the issue where several north and central lawmakers expressed support for expanding casino gambling.
Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic, who serves on the committee, was traveling out of the country and could not be reached for comment. He is not expected to attend the committee meeting.
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