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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Signs of Logic in New Jersey - An Important First Step

In an article appearing in The Record, it appears economic reality is starting to dawn on Republican and Democratic legislators in both the North and South of the state.  "There is a growing consensus that spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars rejuvenating Atlantic City while leaving the struggling racetracks to fend for themselves is not the answer."

Of course, this is the antithesis of what the Hanson Report indicated was the answer.  I said poppycock at that time and now say "Congratulations, legislators, I guess you woke up and started looking at reality (to be fair, the Hanson report didn't consider VLTs because politics at the time said no way would it be allowed).  As State Senator Ralph Caputo stated "We can no longer afford to keep our heads in the sand and pretend that we do not have direct competition to our Atlantic City casinos in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York".  Isn't this what racing supporters have been saying all along?

Off course, it is not time to think we are going back to the old day of long and lucrative race meets.  While state legislators are pushing for online gambling (which I still think has constitutional questions to be resolved in the courts), sports wagering (which needs to pass a November referendum and have enabling laws passed to resume a court challenge against federal law), some think the answer will be VLTs at the Meadowlands which would earn the state over $500 million in net revenue for a state suffering the lack of cash injections.  Even if the majority of state legislators favor VLTs at the Meadowlands, Governor Christie, who is not exactly known as flexible must be won over as does Senator Sweeney, who for now holds the ability to pocket any legislation to prevent it form being voted on.

Still if enough members of Sweeney's caucus want a a vote on VLTs, will he be willing to put his Senate Presidency at risk to a possible intra-party coup?  Will Christie give his political opponents in the 2013 Gubernatorial election a political issue of having New Jersey residents spend $100s of millions of potential state revenue outside of the state?

Go ahead, if you want to work on reviving Atlantic City as a destination gambling resort.  In the meanwhile, get your share of the convenience gamblers dollars being spent by NJ residents elsewhere.

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