Battle for North Jersey Gambling Expansion Continues

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The ongoing battle over the expansion of gambling services in New Jersey continues as lawmakers consider whether adding more brick & mortar casinos will increase the state’s revenue.

In late 2016, Garden State voters opposed a referendum by a 3-1 margin that would have authorized two land-based casinos in North Jersey. However, that hasn’t stopped  proponents like Gov. Phil Murphy from seeking to attract more NJ residents that routinely flock to venues in neighboring states.

“My fear is if there’s a casino on the west side of Manhattan, they won’t send one red cent to Atlantic City. I’d rather that gaming, and those jobs created, be in New Jersey,” opined Murphy during an October 2017 debate with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.A recent article published by Press of Atlantic City points to the growing conflict between those in favor of and opposed to North Jersey casinos by citing a study from Trenton’s Bad Bet, an anti-gaming lobbying organization.

The study concludes that New Jersey voters are more open to subsidizing senior citizen outreach programs, along with a geographically-challenged Atlantic City marina district and boardwalk through a millionaire’s tax, or even the legalization of marijuana, instead of gambling expansion.
Regardless of whether or not the survey was biased, it is clear that New Jersey lawmakers will need to move quickly to shore up funding for the state’s senior-friendly programs as well as its Atlantic City casinos.
It is widely believed that any North Jersey gambling expansion would result in tax revenues from those establishments being partially allocated toward both initiatives.

Could sports betting swing momentum for NJ gambling expansion?

An upcoming US Supreme Court decision, which will decide the fate of legalized sports betting in New Jersey, could heavily influence whether North Jersey gamblers have more options available to them.
New Jersey could theoretically offer in-stadium sports wagers to those attending professional sports events at The Meadowlands if the SCOTUS decision (expected later this year) is favorable to industry proponents. Such an outcome would greatly boost in-state revenue through a gambling vertical that has traditionally been cordoned-off to Nevada and, to a lesser extent, a handful of smaller states.

Is a North Jersey gambling expansion inevitable?

It is this author’s belief that a North Jersey gambling expansion is indeed inevitable. Out-of-state options have cannibalized Atlantic City offerings and made them less convenient to the vast majority of New Jersey residents, many of whom are located closer to casinos in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

While concerns of eventual saturation persist, the state is unlikely to forego guaranteed licensing fees, or the additional tax revenue, that would be generated by future casinos in Bergen County or East Brunswick.

NJ Online Gambling will provide more coverage on this story as it develops.

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David Huber

David Huber (known online as "dhubermex") has been involved in the gambling industry for more than a decade. He currently collaborates with several iGaming interests as well as Upswing Poker in the role of writer, analyst and researcher.

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