Proponents of expanding casino gaming to North Jersey may be out of luck for now.A report last week by The Wall Street Journal said state lawmakers have told developers and union leaders that a referendum on the proposal will likely not be on the ballot in November, despite an aggressive push in recent weeks by North Jersey business leaders and other advocates. State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), one of the supporters of the ballot question to permit casinos outside Atlantic City, told the newspaper: “I’m very disappointed. It’s not happening this year.”
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Legislative leaders haven’t confirmed the decision, according to The Wall Street Journal, but observers pointed to the fact that lawmakers around northern and central New Jersey have been fighting to get a casino in their respective jurisdictions. One of the main opponents of the proposal pointed to the lack of a consensus in Trenton.
“I will continue to fight North Jersey casinos this year, next year, the year after, and every year until Atlantic City has fully transitioned into a destination resort,” Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-Linwood) told the newspaper. “We have proven North Jersey casinos are not inevitable and efforts to stop them are having an effect.”
Lawmakers must pass legislation by Aug. 3 in order for the referendum to be on the November ballot. Advocates have become increasingly vocal recently, as the state’s move to maintain Atlantic City’s monopoly on casinos seems to have done little to stop the bleeding there.
Advocates, including Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural, said they were surprised by the development after touting hundreds of millions in tax revenue and thousands of jobs that would come from North Jersey casinos. Just last month, Gural and Hard Rock International unveiled their proposal for slots and table games at the East Rutherford track, which they said could be open as early as next summer if the question were on the ballot this fall.
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