[toc]Although a bill to expand gambling operations into North Jersey was soundly defeated in November, proponents of gaming outside Atlantic City may have found a way to do just that.
New legislation seeking to expand New Jersey online gambling to the state’s racetracks and has already made it through New Jersey’s Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee.
What is A4255?
The bill, A4255, introduced by Assemblyman Ronald Dancer on Oct. 20, appears harmless at first glance. There is nothing currently illegal about racetracks partnering with land-based casinos in Atlantic City.
However, it seems the intentions behind A4255 may not be as benign.
In November, New Jersey voters were introduced to a ballot measure that would have allowed two new casinos to open in North Jersey. Although early polls suggested an even split on the issue, election day found the referendum defeated by an astounding 78 percent.
The movement on A4255 comes just a month after the election and may allow Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack to circumvent the voters’ decision. It could allow racetracks to partner with existing Atlantic City casinos and create “internet cafes” that offer online gambling.
“The racetrack, in effect, would be leasing the casinos some floor space at the race track; it would be in a designated area,” Monmouth Park representative Dennis Drazin told committee members.
After the Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee meeting, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo told Politico, “This intent was not what we thought when we came here.”
If approved, the bill could see New Jersey mimicking New York, where the introduction of video lottery terminals resulted in a multi-billion-dollar industry.
“And now that you read into the bill and heard the testimony, there’s something up here,” said Mazzeo, who strongly opposed the North Jersey expansion plan said.
“Something doesn’t smell right.”
Intentions behind NJ gambling bill are not secret
Mazzeo’s speculation is far from unfounded. In fact, proponents of the bill are not even attempting to shy away from the accusations.
According to Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, chairman of the committee and a sponsor of the current legislation, a bill of this nature was to be expected after the defeat of the expansion plan.
He dismissed criticism of the move, saying, “Well, you know what? This is how the world turns. I guess we’re going to have gaming at the tracks.”
Caputo also brushed off the idea that this new legislation would violate the will of New Jersey voters, calling the new legislation was another way to “win.”
“Once we get that momentum, maybe we can win this time,” Caputo said. “This is another way of winning. Isn’t it?”
The future of A4255
At this point in time, it is not certain that the bill will advance to a point where it will be voted upon by a full assembly. But A4255 does seem to have at least some traction.
Either way, it is unlikely that A4255 will be considered by the Senate without at least some form of amendment.
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