Christie supports expanding gambling in North Jersey
As gambling has continued to expand across the region, it's no secret that, for years, New Jersey casinos have been struggling. Tonight on Townsquare Media's Ask the Governor program, Gov. Chris Christie said he'd support a move to put a question on the ballot that would extend gaming to the northern part of the state.
Last year, as revenues kept falling, four casinos were forced to close their doors for good. Even though there has been expanded pressure to allow gambling outside of Atlantic City, Christie has repeatedly stated that wasn't going to happen. The reason, he said, is a five-year plan that's in place to help Atlantic City reinvent itself, become more family-friendly, and attract more tourists who aren't visiting the troubled resort town to gamble.
The governor has also said allowing gambling in other parts of the state would hurt Atlantic City even more. Nevertheless, Hard Rock International and the Meadowlands Racetrack have announced a proposal to build a casino right across the Hudson River from New York City. The project that could generate half a billion dollars in new tax revenue for the Garden State.
"No one has presented that proposal to me yet, I've read about it. I've heard rumblings from the legislature that they want to put the question on the ballot of expanding gaming to the northern part of the state," Christie said. "I've said before, I would favor that, as long as a part of it is helping to take care of Atlantic City as well, some of the revenue could help our continuing efforts to revitalize Atlantic City. I have absolutely no problem with that question going on the ballot right away, because the competition is only going to grow, in New York in particular."
The governor said expanding gambling to other areas of the state would require a constitutional amendment.
"Even though I have no role in the process, because it's a constitutional amendment and the governor doesn't play a role in it, I certainly would be supportive of getting this question done as quickly as we can, so we could move to expand it, if that's the will of the people," Christie said. "I think given the competition around us, it would be the right thing to do, as long as there's a provision to have some of the revenue to help Atlantic City and help some of the workers down there who have lost their jobs because of the downsizing."
In addition to the Meadowlands casino proposal, there have also been discussions about building casinos in Jersey City and Newark. Representatives of the Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport have also made it known they would also like to operate a casino.
Christie said he'd have to look at all the proposals before deciding which one would be best.