Voters To Decide If Atlantic City Should Lose Decades-Long Casino Monopoly
November Referendum To Be Held On North Jersey Casinos
After months of consideration, the New Jersey legislature has signed off on a November referendum that could radically alter the state’s gambling industry.
Atlantic City has long held a casino monopoly in the Garden State, but that could change if voters allow two casinos in north Jersey. Las Vegas-style gambling in that part of the state could cause further hardship for a gambling town that has seen its annual gaming win cut in half over the past decade thanks to new casinos in other states.
The new casinos would need to be at least 72 miles from Atlantic City, according to the proposal.
According to a report from the Associated Press, officials predict that three or four of Atlantic City’s remaining casinos will close because of competition in north New Jersey. In 2013, Atlantic City had 12 casinos, and that was when I-gaming was authorized to help save Atlantic City.
The new owner of the Trump Taj Mahal recently said that he won’t be re-investing into the property that was on the verge of closing last year if the north Jersey casinos are allowed. Revel, a $2.4 billion casino that was the most expensive in Atlantic City history, could re-open this summer, but given that casino’s turbulent past it’s unclear how the new casinos would affect its future.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian told the AP that if the state’s constitution is amended to break the city’s casino monopoly “there will be devastation.”
The city has already contemplated bankruptcy, and the state is considering taking over at least some of its finances. The Borgata, Atlantic City’s largest casino in terms of revenue, has stopped paying taxes to the city because it is owed money.
Atlantic City’s debt stands at $240 million, of which $160 million is owed to the Borgata in the form of a tax refund. Atlantic City said it has no way of paying that off.
Even if it loses its casino monopoly, Atlantic City is still the place where New Jersey online gambling operators must be based out of. While gaming win from brick-and-mortar play keeps falling, online gambling revenue is growing steadily.
New Jersey’s Internet betting industry should receive a big boost when PokerStars, far and away the world’s largest poker site, launches intra-state games next week.
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