Casino debate rages in New Jersey

Casino debate rages in New JerseyNew York is expected to “retaliate violently” if New Jersey voters approve plans to allow two casinos in the northern part of the state across the river from Manhattan.

Opposing views were aired Thursday in Atlantic City by panelists during a debate at the East Coast Gaming Congress and iGaming Institute.

New Jersey voters will decide in November whether to authorize casinos in the northern part of the state. Locations are not specified, but the leading contenders are at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, home to the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants, and in Jersey City, where Reebok magnate Paul Fireman proposes a casino resort worth about $5 billion.

Fireman said his project is about luring tourists from New York City.

“My intention is 40 to 50 percent of our customers will come by water” across the Hudson River, he said. “We intend to take the money out of New York instead of New York taking money out of New Jersey.”

Proponents of the plan to open the first New Jersey casinos outside of Atlantic City scoff at the raging pessimism, contending the new facilities will benefit the  south Jersey resorts and gambling halls because a portion of the revenue earned by the new casinos will be shared with Atlantic City.

Atlantic City casino officials seem to lean toward the conclusion that north Jersey casinos will hurt more than they will help Atlantic City’s struggling facilities.

Wall Street analysts also voiced concern about the impact of new in-state casinos on Atlantic City. Andrew Zarnett, managing director of Deutsche Bank Securities, predicted “some” of the weaker casinos could close, but didn’t say which ones, or how many.
He said Atlantic City should “let the north Jersey casinos go forward and take that tax revenue and use those revenues to rebuild the city.”

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: 

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