For a special blog edition of VFTRG which we will call "Politics New Jersey", we will look at the possible impact of 'Bridgegate' on gambling and horse racing.
By now, everyone knows what Bridgegate is all about. There are allegations that people connected to Governor Christie managed to close some lanes on the George Washington Bridge (the busiest bridge in the United States) in retaliation for the Mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat, not endorsing the Governor for his re-election bid. So while people connected to the Governor have been implicated, as of now there is no evidence to connect the Governor with giving the orders or having direct knowledge of the alleged retribution. Since then, there have been additional allegations made where retaliation has occurred for angering the Governor and/or his staff; meetings cancelled because the Jersey City Mayor stayed neutral in the election, Hoboken being denied Superstorm Sandy aid in retaliation for denying a development project of a group represented legally by a Christie-appointee on the Port Authority and other accusations .
Again, let it be made clear some of these charges may be business as usual in the Garden State and nothing may come of them, but there is a possibility 'business as normal ' may cause trouble depending on how far up Bridgegate goes and how far the investigative committees are willing to look..
As HRU reports, it was another bad year for Atlantic City Casinos as for the first time in 22 years, Atlantic City won less than $3 billion dollars. One casino, the Atlantic Club has closed down, shut down by the new owners who purchased the casino in bankruptcy. Though premature to call it a failure, online gaming revenue estimates are lower than anticipated (though some of this is due to credit card companies denying payments). So the question to be asked is does this make it more likely for casinos at racetracks or at a minimum the Meadowlands?
Being an amateur political sage, I think it is safe to assume the Governor will not win the GOP Presidential nomination if he decides to run. Hence, one can assume Christie will be Governor for his full term unless something came up which required him to depart early. The Governor says his Atlantic City experiment has two more years to run which would suggest there would be no casino at the Meadowlands until 2017 at the earliest.
But what if the Governor leaves? You still have Senate President Sweeney who is dead set against expanding gambling in New Jersey so no legislation will get through the Senate without Sweeney's approval. However, one has to think if shenanigans were going on in North Jersey, then there is a good chance some arm-twisting was going on in South Jersey as well. If, and that is a big if, some improper deals are uncovered which would force the Senate President (there are no allegations as of now, and it would be a Democratic-led investigation to go after the Democratic Senate President) to lose the Senate Presidency then something could happen, but otherwise, it will be the status quo.
The bottom line is a lot of things need to occur before casino gaming is considered for the Meadowlands, earlier than the 5 year period the Governor had declared. At this point, there is nothing to suggest all the dominoes will fall in order for something to change early.
However, racing interests in the Garden State can keep hoping.