On June 3 Hard Rock International and Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will unveil plans for a North Jersey casino.
Casino expansion outside of Atlantic City is still an unsettled issue the state is considering to bolster New Jersey’s falling gaming revenue.
The partnership (Hard Rock International currently owns 16% of Meadowlands Racing) has named its proposed casino the Hard Rock Casino Meadowlands, which will be located next door to the new Grandstand built at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
During the press conference, the group will reveal renderings of the proposed casino as well as fly through video, exciting project details, and more, according to a media statement by the two companies.
“New Jersey Casinos could generate more than $400 million in yearly revenue, which could fund critical priorities, such as property tax relief for seniors and veterans’ programs, in addition to helping rebuild Atlantic City and create more than 10,000 jobs in the area,” the group stated in the media release.
A casino in North Jersey closer than ever
Atlantic City has held on to its gambling monopoly with a vice like grip since the first casino, Resorts, opened its doors in 1978, two years after the state passed a referendum to allow casino style gaming.
That being said, with plummeting revenue and the closure of four casinos in 2014, the writing is now on the wall for Atlantic City. Relinquishing that monopoly is something that might now be in Atlantic City’s best interests.
To ease the minds of Atlantic City advocates like Sweeney, the recent North Jersey casino proposals are calling for these new properties to pay an exorbitant tax rate compared to Atlantic City – 55% compared to 8%. Some of that revenue would go straight into AC’s coffers – something the city sorely needs – to help reinvigorate the city’s economy and strengthen gaming.
“Our plan is to share some of that with Atlantic City to help them rebuild and recover. I look at this as a win for the taxpayers and for Atlantic City,” Meadowlands Racing Chairman Jeff Gural told The Associated Press.
Gural also said he was fine with paying the “Pennsylvania rate” of 55%.
Even with groups like Hard Rock/Meadowlands submitting proposals, it would take considerable alacrity to get a referendum on casino expansion outside of Atlantic City on the 2015 ballot, as the deadline to file is in June.
But 2016 would be a good possibility, and the measure would likely be assisted by the increased voter turnout in a presidential year election.
Who else is interested in North Jersey?
Hard Rock and Meadowlands aren’t the only interested parties.
During his keynote address at G2E in October of 21014, Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson indicated his desire to build in North Jersey now that the area no longer smells like “a pig farm.”
Another potential suitor is MGM, which already owns a 50% stake in the Borgata, one of Atlantic City’s true success stories.
MGM CEO Jim Murren was upbeat about North Jersey during a recent press briefing at the American Gaming Association offices where he said, “The market opportunity up north is vast. If that were to pass, MGM would be interested in pursuing it.”
Casino likely to apply for NJ online gambling license
If a North Jersey Casino is approved – something that would require not only legislative support, but a statewide referendum to achieve – the casino would almost certainly have the opportunity to launch online gaming platforms in the state.
Sans Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands, those receiving a license to build in North Jersey would likely launch an online casino in New Jersey to go alongside land-based gaming.
This could bring about an interesting and completely novel dynamic, as it would mark the first major land-based casino expansion in a state offering online gaming – Nevada’s constantly changing landscape excluded.
Theoretically, the company’s online casino could be up and running long before the brick and mortar property opens for business, allowing Hard Rock or MGM (which already offers online gaming through Borgata) to cobble together a database before their first patron steps through the door.
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