Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

State Bets on Gaming, Not on Atlantic City

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

State Bets on Gaming, Not on Atlantic City

Article excerpt

NEW JERSEY soon will have more gaming options. According to supporters of an online gaming bill, it will be a boon for Atlantic City. I guess New Jerseyans are going to take their laptops to the beleaguered city on the Atlantic Ocean.

To his credit, Governor Christie at least conditionally vetoed the bill last week. He wants more money to go toward gambling- treatment programs and greater transparency, and he would require that the law sunset in 10 years. That would force the Legislature to review whether it was a success. Supporters of the bill are rejoicing over Christie's conditional veto. These are easy legislative fixes.

But the bottom line is this bill benefits casinos. It may throw more money into state coffers, but it will do little to reinvent AC. People are not going to be enticed from home computers to go to Atlantic City. There are deals aplenty now that are not bringing folks to AC. Giving gamblers the option of staying home and playing any casino game or driving down to a chronically mismanaged city to stay in fortress-like casino/hotels is not exactly a hard choice to make.

This is sad, because the Shore should be the appeal of Atlantic City -- the boardwalk, the beach and the ocean. Supposedly, the infrastructure for supporting online gaming will be built in New Jersey, creating thousands of new jobs. If the projected $200 million in new revenue materializes, that is not chump change. New Jersey could be the first state to offer such a wide array of Internet gaming.

But Delaware has the same idea, and it is cheaper to live and work in Delaware. Maybe I know nothing about online gaming and setting up computer servers to support it, but if New Jersey is losing pharmaceutical companies with their massive, complex campuses to other locations around the country and globe, it is hard to see how a computer-based operation will be locked in New Jersey.

Harder still to see is how this helps revive Atlantic City. The casinos there are losing business, but that does not mean casino operators with ties to casinos in other states are losing out on gaming dollars. The state cannot prevent a private business from expanding in Delaware, Pennsylvania or New York. …

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