Last year, voters in the state of New Jersey were provided a referendum on the November ballot, asking if casino gambling should be made available outside of Atlantic City. The goal was to create two casinos in the northern portion of the state. Voters overwhelming said NO, with close to 80% deciding to reject the idea. Now, it seems no additional effort will be made to move casinos outside the Atlantic City area in the coming years based on remarks made recently by Senate President Steve Sweeney.
In speaking with The Associated Press earlier this week, Sweeney stated that he does not think state lawmakers will put another referendum on the ballot next year or even in 2019. 2018 would be the earliest that a referendum could be created, and Sweeney says that he does not see such efforts taking place any time soon.
One of the driving forces behind offering gaming in the northern region of the state was to give racetracks casino gaming options. In the interview, Sweeney pointed out that the Supreme Court case involving the state and sports betting would see an outcome in the state’s favor and this would help the horse tracks in a big way.
The Meadowlands Racetrack was one such facility that wanted to create a new casino. The owner of the racetrack, Jeff Gural, wants to see a referendum added again but not until it is sure to pass. Gural feels that if the referendum efforts were to be revived, if it failed again, then a casino plan for North Jersey would never happen again.
Gural pointed out that the time must be right and that it would be a good idea to wait until New York’s three new casinos are open before they try again to revive the question on the ballot. Once these casinos open, the argument would no longer be about creating funds to help Atlantic City but to keep gamblers in the state instead of watching them leave for New York.
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