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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dereliction of Duty in Trenton

To say the NJ State Legislature and Governor are derelict in their responsibilities to the residents (taxpayers) of New Jersey is unquestionable when it comes to the expansion of gambling in the Garden State.

Let me state now, I abhor the racino concept and relying on alternative gaming for purse enhancement.  However, as much as I find it distasteful, denying horsemen of both racing breeds in New Jersey access to revenue from casino gaming would be akin to tying both arms of a boxer behind their back while they go against a champion boxer in the ring; someone is going to get a good whooping and can't do anything about it.

Right now racing at Freehold Raceway, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Monmouth Park, and to a much lesser degree Atlantic City Race Course are fighting for their lives and horses thanks to slot fueled-purses in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York because their legislators recognized casino gambling raises revenue for the state.  In the meanwhile, New Jersey continues to give Atlantic City a monopoly in gaming, even allowing for online gambling which 'is happening in Atlantic City' (nod, nod, wink, wink) to meet the constitutional requirements despite the fact casino gambling has become a commodity, meaning the glory days of Atlantic City being a gambling mecca are long over.  This exclusivity to protect their market comes despite these very casino companies are the ones opening casinos in surrounding states.  While Atlantic City is starting to realize their  revenue growth must come from non-gaming activities, the state continues to give the casinos protection from other casinos.

How much longer will this continue?  When will New Jersey publicly acknowledge the millions of dollars lost in tax revenue due to this exclusivity?  I say acknowledge because unless you are a Christie number cruncher, you know the state is losing million of dollars in revenue to New York as a result of convenience gambling; revenue the state can ill afford to lose.

Things are going to get worse.  It is all but certain at least one casino will be constructed in the Sullivan or Orange County area.  One proposal has a casino built near the current Monticello Raceway which will have a lessor impact on New Jersey while there are proposals which put a casino near Woodbury Commons or even in Sterling Forest which is a mere 16 minutes from the NJ border.  How much more revenue, which the state can desperately use (the Governor is trying to come up with funds to close a shortfall), is going to be lost?  Property tax rebates to the elderly and disabled, rebates these people depend on, has been cancelled for the second year.

I respect there is a large investment in Atlantic City and as hopeless as their situation may be, there needs to be steps taken to protect the moribund industry there.  However, to sacrifice revenue the state desperately needs is sheer insanity and a dereliction of duty to the taxpayers.  Casinos at racetracks are a logical place to house them plus it puts the state's racing industry on an even keel with racing in other states.  You want to help Atlantic City?  Fine.  Let's reverse places and for a certain number of years supplement Atlantic City with some revenue from casinos at racetracks.   The fact is the state is going broke and all which is happening is the state is cutting services to its citizens for the benefit of a protected class.

It is time to end Christie's five year experiment and allow the expansion of gaming in a controlled manner.  Let's get that constitutional amendment filed and let the voters of the whole state make a decision if they want the expansion of casino gambling.  If not, let's see the voters of NJ remove those elected representatives who can't or refuse to read the tea leaves.  

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