ATLANTIC CITY — The approval of casinos in North Jersey could have a grave impact on the South Jersey economy and create a state budget deficit, according to a study released by New Jersey Policy Perspective.
The study explored the impact expanding casino gaming would have on the region. Proponents of casinos in the northern portion of the state have said it would boost Atlantic City’s struggling casino industry.
“The heavily advertised assertions that North Jersey casinos would ‘rescue’ Atlantic City are based on implausible hypotheses and inaccurate citation of the facts,” according to the report. “Neutral Wall Street analysts target at least three casinos for closure.”
Voters will decide whether to approve as many as two casinos in North Jersey during the Nov. 8 election. 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. Deutsche Bank said last year North Jersey casinos could generate $500 million in gambling revenue.
“(Referendum) proponents say casino expansion will help rescue Atlantic City, dramatically increase support for struggling seniors and the disabled, help the fading horse-racing industry and help host municipalities and counties,” according to the report written by Gordon MacInnes and Sheila Reynertson of the nonprofit think tank. “The number commonly cited is $500 million in new revenue each year, with at least $200 million going to seniors and the disabled and $200 million to assist rebuilding Atlantic City. But essential questions about the taxes to be imposed and who decides about their distribution remain unanswered.”
A recent poll by Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy found 68 percent of those surveyed oppose the plan to allow two casinos in northern New Jersey, while 27 percent support expansion beyond Atlantic City.
“This report confirms what we have been saying all along. Casino expansion is a bad deal for residents,” said Bill Cortese, executive director of Trenton’s Bad Bet, a Newark-based group opposed to the referendum. “That is why Trenton is being so cryptic with the details. The politicians who have received thousands of dollars from billionaire developers seeking gaming expansion cannot be trusted.”
Opponents and even some supporters of the referendum said there weren’t enough details, such as exact locations and tax rates.
“There is no tax rate determined for these proposed casinos, so how can the state possibly know what kind of revenue there will be,” Cortese said. “This is just another example of Trenton pushing through a deal for special interests with no regard for the potential impact on New Jersey families. That’s why we are asking voters to vote no on Question One.”