NJ needs slots

Dec 2, 2002 11:34 PM

   New Jersey, under siege from neighboring states for the gambling dollar, is considering a bill to legalize slots at Meadowlands Racetrack.

   “The pressures to authorize expanded gambling never really go away,” Sebastian Sinclair, president of Christiansen Capital Advisors told the Press of Atlantic City last week. “It’s getting the other two big pieces to line up — the politicians and the budget deficits — that make it happen.”

   New Jersey is hoping to cash in on the wave of gambling interest within a 200 mile radius of Atlantic City. There are nine other states besides New Jersey that want to build more casinos or add slots at racetracks.

   The 10 states (NJ, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia) have a combined budget gap of $5.6 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

   Gambling taxes, tabbed at 25 to 50 percent of gross revenue, would be a prime solution for budget deficits in those Northeast states.

   “Atlantic City is going to come under a big cloud in the near future,” said Marc Falcone, a Deutsche Bank Securities analyst. “I think the biggest focus for gaming investors is going to be Atlantic City. Coming into next year, you’re going to see a very high concentration of discussion about gaming in the Northeast.”

   Connecticut is New Jersey’s main competition now with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, but both are on Indian land. Bridgeport is set to offer a third Indian-run casino to the Golden Hill Paugussett Indians, but the city and tribe are not in agreement at this time.