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Danny Drake

The head of the Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee is calling Atlantic City's largest casino operator hypocritical for its decision to pursue building a casino in New York.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, called foul on Caesars Entertainment on Thursday, saying the company has opposed gambling expansion in New Jersey, but is willing to potentially pull customers into New York.

Caesars announced plans Wednesday for a luxury casino resort in Orange County, N.Y., roughly 130 miles from Atlantic City. New York expects to award four casino licenses by the end of the year.

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"Caesars has been a major roadblock for the state over the past few years," Caputo said. "They are our main opposition to growing the gaming industry in the state and have not supported any opportunity to increase gaming revenue if it meant earning it outside of Atlantic City.

Caputo is the lead sponsor on a bill that calls for evaluating casino expansion in Bergen County where the Meadowlands are located. Local legislators oppose the bill and have pointed to Gov. Chris Christie's commitment to block casino expansion until February 2016 while Atlantic City is given a chance for revitalization.

"For Caesars to impede the progress we could have made in New Jersey, then go to New York to build is plain hypocrisy," Caputo said. "This new move to build a casino resort in New York adds insult to injury."

Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson said the company had no comment on Caputo's remarks other than to say it remains committed to the Atlantic City market. Thompson referenced construction of a new conference center at Harrah's Atlantic City designed to attract more visitors.

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