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Assembly Democratic Bill to Bring World-Class Gaming to North Jersey Advances after Public Hearing

Monday, March 7, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 03/07/2016

An Assembly panel held a special public hearing Monday on a proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters to allow the creation of world-class casino gaming facilities in North Jersey and use money from that expansion to fund programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, along with help for Atlantic City and the horse racing industry. The special public hearing, which is required for all constitutional amendments, comes on the heels of the Assembly Judiciary Committee's approval of the legislation in early February. The bill was then required to sit on the desks of lawmakers for 20 days. It now heads to the full Assembly for consideration. "This is a game-changing proposal for New Jersey taxpayers," said Caputo (D-Essex), chairman of the Assembly gaming committee. "We would modernize our gaming industry and provide significant relief for senior citizens and disabled residents. It's truly a win for everyone."

Under current law, casino gambling is permitted only in Atlantic City in Atlantic County. This constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to pass laws to permit the establishment and operation, under regulation and control by the state, of casinos in two other counties of this state. No more than two casinos would be permitted and only one casino in each of the two counties would be permitted. Also, each casino is to be located in a municipality that is at least 72 miles from Atlantic City. "For a state sorely in need of new revenues for vital needs such as programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, this is a win-win," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. "This proposal would help bring a brighter economic future for our state." The eligibility for each initial license to establish a new casino would be limited to those whose majority equity owners. An applicant for a license to establish a casino would be approved only if the applicant commits to and makes an investment of at least $1 billion in the acquisition, construction, and development of the facility in which the casino is located prior to the commencement of gambling operations.

The law would determine the location and type of such casinos and of the gambling games which may be conducted. The law would also determine the tax rate to be levied upon the gross gaming revenues derived from the gambling operations. In the first fiscal year in which state revenues are derived from the new casinos, those revenues would be credited to a special account to be used for the same purposes as state revenues from Atlantic City casinos are currently applied. In the second fiscal year in which state revenues from the new casinos are derived and thereafter, the revenues from the new casinos, as well as the Atlantic City casinos, would be credited to a special New Jersey Investment Fund. Two percent of the amount credited in each state fiscal year first would be dedicated as state aid, with each half of the two percent allocated to the locality in which each of the two gambling establishments are located and operating. Locality would mean the host municipality, county, or both.

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