Northern New Jersey casino vote likely in November

Dec 14, 2015 10:35 AM

Two new casinos in the northern part of New Jersey could be built if voters approve a proposed change in the state constitution that will be on the November ballot.

The issue was widely discussed last summer but the necessary ballot language could not be worked out in time for this past November’s election day.

Senate President Steve Sweeney told the Associated Press that the proposed ballot question will not specify locations for either of the two casinos that must be built in separate counties.

Neither does the ballot question specify the tax rate that the two casinos would pay but some tax revenue from the new casinos would be channeled to Atlantic City to compensate for the expected loss of business.

The most commonly mentioned location for a northern New Jersey casino is at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, just outside New York City. Hard Rock International and the Meadowlands Racetrack unveiled plans in June for a $1 billion casino at the sports complex, next to the stadium where the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants play.

Another leading proposal is for Jersey City, where footwear magnate Paul Fireman has proposed a casino costing up to $5 billion.

A requirement in the bill that the new casinos be located at least 75 miles from Atlantic City would appear to knock Oceanport out of the running, where officials wanted to offer casino gambling at the Monmouth Park Racetrack.

A key element of expanding casinos to northern New Jersey is having them pay a much higher tax rate than the 8 percent the Atlantic City casinos pay. Hard Rock has offered to pay a 55 percent tax.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].