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Senator: Slot machines could help fund NJ pension system

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to ask voters if they’d like to amend the state constitution to allow slot machines at the state’s four racetracks – an effort that could help fund the state pension system.

Slot machines
(Fernando Camino, Getty Images)

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Pine Brook) said the revenue that would be generated from the slot machines could help bolster the state’s public worker pension system, give Atlantic City casinos a boost and help the beleaguered resort town. Under the measure, a consortium of casinos would operate the slot machines.

“Whatever monies are made from the four “racinos” will then be divided 50 percent for the state, 40 percent for that consortium and 10 percent back to Atlantic City to enhance and enrich their gaming and entertainment venues,” Pennacchio said.

The state’s piece of the pie would be dedicated to the pension fund. The consortium that would run the racinos would be made up only of casinos that are still operating in Atlantic City.

“If you do not have a presence in Atlantic City, if Revel is leaving, if Showboat is leaving then they will not have a presence of the consortium,” Pennacchio explained.

The question could not be placed on the ballot until next November at the earliest. Pennacchio said he is thinking outside the box and he wants his idea to be in the mix as committees are formed to develop plans to revitalize Atlantic City. He called racinos in New Jersey “inevitable.”

In the meantime, a group of business leaders unveiled a plan Tuesday to transform the Meadowlands into a multi-venue entertainment destination. It would have casinos, a convention center, hotels and even a monorail to accommodate visitors. Pennacchio said any plan to allow casinos in other parts of the state would run the risk of cannibalizing Atlantic City’s already dwindling revenues.

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