New Jersey governor Chris Christie has made it clear that despite the push to bring casino gambling outside of Atlantic City, he’s not signing off on the idea just yet. Well, if Christie’s looking for some support, he has it with the majority of New Jerseyans who believe that the AC should keep its exclusive rights to gambling.
In a poll conducted by the Inquirer New Jersey Poll last week, 54% of New Jerseyans said that gambling should remain in the confines of Atlantic City. Not surprisingly, a bigger majority of the opposition came from residents of South Jersey, 63% of whom voted to oppose the gambling expansion. According to the poll – as reported by the Inquirer – margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points.
The findings didn’t come as a surprise to a lot of people, including State Sen. James Whelan (D., Atlantic). Incidentally, Whelan also served as mayor of Atlantic City from 1992 to 2001. “It’s not surprising,” Sen. Whelan said. “The point is, what is the best long-term interest for the state and for Atlantic City?
“We have billions of dollars in investment in infrastructure and tens of thousands of jobs, and you are not really looking at the new wave of casinos that have cropped up in Pennsylvania and New York in the same way. Those are glorified bingo halls that don’t generate the jobs or have the same type of capital investment.”
The findings of the poll also served as validation for Gov. Christie, who has been nothing but unwavering in his support of Atlantic City despite the voices on the other side who want to discuss the possibility of putting up a casino outside of Atlantic City. One of these voices is Ruben Ramos, D-Hudson, the committee chairman of the state’s Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee. Ramos also argues that with out-of-state gambling competition becoming a serious threat to poaching players in the state, the discussions of putting casinos in the Meadowlands is a recourse worth looking into.
“Expanding gaming options to the Meadowlands could strengthen New Jersey against that competition that has already lured customers away,” he said back in July. “Any option to bring additional revenue and create jobs deserves careful consideration, and this is where the discussion starts.”
But with the majority of New Jerseyans in the corner of Gov. Christie and his five-year plan of rebuilding the floundering casino town, gambling expansion in the state of New Jersey isn’t looking like it’s going to get the kind of support it was hoping for. Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor, even went so far as to say that the findings “align exactly with the governor’s position and policies”.
“The governor set out a five-year plan in this regard, and this is not the time to diminish Atlantic City’s potential by adding competition in our own state.”