In the state of New Jersey, the democrats rule the roost and are planning to see a measure added to the 2016 November ballot that would allow for voters to choose if they want to see casinos added outside of Atlantic City. To allow casinos outside of the gambling city, an amendment would have to be made to the state constitution, which currently restricts gambling houses within the seaside resort town.
State Senator Paul Sarlo believes that adding gambling options to other towns besides Atlantic City is crucial to bringing tax revenues that are otherwise going to Pennsylvania and New York. Sarlo stated in a telephone interview that the only way the state will be able to compete with neighboring states and bring in monies to Atlantic City would be to offer gambling options outside of the gambling city.
In the past, Atlantic City dominated the gambling scene on the East Coast. However, revenues have been declining over the past few years with numbers down from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.9 billion in yearly earnings in 2014. As New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware began to expand gambling, players began to visit states there were closer than Atlantic City.
The market struggled so much that last year four casinos shut down, leaving only 8 operating in the city. Governor Chris Christie has tried to revive Atlantic City to its formal glory and has become more open to allowing gaming in other regions of the state if money from the gaming could be used to revive Atlantic City.
According to Sarlo, lawmakers are discussing how a percentage of the expanded proceeds could be redirected to Atlantic City. Just how many gaming venues and the location of such venues is still being discussed. Lawmakers are trying to decide if they want to hurry up and approve a referendum during the final weeks of the session, to set up a final vote by August 2016. A referendum has the ability to pass with majority votes for two years in a row or with 1 3/5 of the vote.
The goal of lawmakers seems to be to add casinos in areas where gamblers are traveling outside the state to take part in casino gaming. Casinos in the northern region of the state would keep gamblers in New Jersey, rather than seeing them travel to Pennsylvania and New York to enjoy their favorite casino games.