Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gambling on A.C

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gambling on A.C

Article excerpt

THE ATLANTIC City experiment is not working. Governor Christie took gambling outside of Atlantic City off the table for five years. The clock started in 2011. That leaves two more years to go. And that is not soon enough.

As reported by the Associated Press, gambling revenues have dropped from $3.3 billion in 2011 to less than $2.9 billion in 2013. In simple mathematical terms, that is less. The state sends out mixed messages when it comes to gambling and a new-and-improved Atlantic City. The governor wants to see Atlantic City revitalized as a tourist destination.

The state imposed a tourist district in Atlantic City. It cannot force the tourists to come.

And while Christie and South Jersey legislators like state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, talk about protecting Atlantic City's state monopoly on gambling, they supported Internet gambling, which allows New Jersey residents to wager from the comforts of their homes. They never have to set foot in Atlantic City.

State officials play to the interests of South Jersey powerbrokers while gamblers are going elsewhere, as neighboring states open casinos. The drop in revenue in Atlantic City is partly due to the city's decay, but also is an unavoidable consequence of there being more places for people to gamble in this region. A casino in the Meadowlands, often discussed, would siphon off some of the gambling dollars traveling to New York and Pennsylvania. A casino would also fit well in the sports-entertainment mix of the Meadowlands.

Comments Sweeney made last week to an editorial board are cause for concern. Sweeney suggested that the state could bypass the Meadowlands and put a casino in cities like Camden, Newark and Jersey City. If the answer for more urban investments is a casino, something is wrong.

Jersey City's waterfront is becoming an extension of Manhattan; it was one of a few New Jersey cities to reap the benefits of the Super Bowl. And while Newark faces great challenges -- crime and poverty high on that list -- it is also home to the state's premiere performing arts center as well as the Prudential Center. …

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