Support for Meadowlands casino grows stronger

dealers-choice-online-is-new-jerseys-only-hope-sideAtlantic City’s continued struggles, coupled with online gambling’s lukewarm returns has turned some lawmakers in New Jersey into considering putting up a casino at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

This isn’t the first time that the Meadowlands has been pointed at as a suitable site for a casino. A few years ago, talks of putting up a temporary casino in time for Super Bowl XLVIII were broached but ultimately shelved.

Since then, that discussion of a casino at the Meadowlands, despite being tabled, still brimmed from under the surface, and as recently as last December, a bill, AJR11 was discussed, calling for the creation of a new state commission – the Casino Gaming Study Commission – that would essentially study the effects of new casino legislation in neighboring states and determine whether it’s time for the state to do its own casino expansion within its borders.

But now, more and more of the state’s leaders want New Jersey to push all its chips on the table one more time, only this time, the narrative now centers on (finally) putting a casino at the Meadowlands.

“Forget all this online slots, online lottery and all that — let’s just put slot machines in at the Meadowlands and get it over with,” state Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, told The Record.

“We need to stop trying to put Band-Aids on a gunshot wound to the head. Let’s accept the fact that Atlantic City’s problem is ‘location, location, location’ and move on from that.”

Strong words coming from someone who was actually around supporting Atlantic City during its glory years. But Sen. Codey isn’t the only one who understands the appeal of putting a casino at the Meadowlands. One of his colleagues, Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, echoed his sentiments, saying that the “only way to maximize gambling revenues in the state is to have a high-class casino in the Meadowlands”.

Both senators, as well as those that have backed this movement in the past, understand the potential of having a casino in a metropolitan area that’s actually 15 minutes away (without traffic) from New York City. So when these proponents throw around estimated revenues of $350 million annually to the state, those are realistic numbers, especially when you take into account how successful Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Raceway in Queens was last year when it produced $435 million in taxes.

A casino at the Meadowlands is similarly accessible to residents of New York. Just hop on an NJ Transit bus at Port Authority headed to Jersey, cross the Holland, and you’re there!

Yet all these calls are moot if Governor Chris Christie doesn’t get on-board with it. As of now, the hasn’t hidden his desire to complete his five-year revitalization plan in Atlantic City, which expires in 2016. Until then, he’s not going to commit on anything regarding proposals for the Meadowlands. But give the guy credit, for what it’s worth. He’s always been an opponent of the idea at least until 2016, but has softened his stance lately, calling for Atlantic City casinos to show that they’re improving their businesses or run the risk of the state begin “considering alternatives”.

If Atlantic City doesn’t shape – it’s not generating any optimism with its putrid revenue haul for the entire year – then expect to see more and more lawmakers band together to support a proposed casino at the Meadowlands.

Maybe then, they’ll have enough support to compel the governor to follow suit.