Dave & Buster’s, the uber-popular restaurant, sports bar and interactive video arcade has 73 locations in 30 states and Canada.
More than half of its estimated $744 million in revenue comes from its amusement and game offerings, with only 15 percent coming from its sale of alcoholic beverages.
And for each store it opens, Dave & Buster’s creates 200 construction jobs and employs 175 part-time and full-time workers, while spending an average of $1.3 million annually from local vendors.
New Jersey, however, won’t let the company in.
“New Jersey is the single, densest, most populous state in which we are not currently transacting business,” said Jay Tobin, general counsel for Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s. “Just given the great success we’ve had in both Pennsylvania and New York, it’s a natural fit for the brand.”
So what gives?
Why won’t New Jersey allow Dave & Buster’s to open its desired four or more locations here? And why wouldn’t New Jersey want to collect some $2.8 million more in annual sales tax?
There’s a 58-year-old state law that prohibits serving alcohol where games of chance and skill that reward players with tickets or prizes are present. It was originally enacted to protect children. But now, it’s only hurting adults — those who want to do business here.
So says Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus).
“The laws that go back into the 1950s — which preclude these types of establishments — are archaic and do not have a place in today’s world,” he said.
“Companies are leaving New Jersey every other week because of the business climate, and here we have a company with a perfect business model wanting to come in and being denied because of such a law — it’s crazy to think that we’re actually stifling business growth.”