TRENTON, N.J. – On Wednesday, the state Senate President hinted there could be a referendum for the upcoming ballot on November 2015 asking voters if the state should expand casino gambling in North Jersey.
“If everyone is telling the truth — and you know I’m skeptical, too — then they care about Atlantic City, too. So if there is a true willingness — and I am taking everyone at their word — yeah, I am looking at it and I have looked at it for almost a year,” said state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).
According to the Senate President, during the past year, he had private discussions with North Jersey officials regarding a potential approval of a casino in the Meadowlands.
Sweeney said any plans for North Jersey would also include specifics on how to revive Atlantic City. The Senator, recently, defended a five-year moratorium to lasts until 2016 in order to help Atlantic City.
Sen. Steven Oroho, R-Sussex along with Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex supported the Senate President.
Oroho stated that “by co-branding new gaming venues with the global brand Atlantic City already has built up, and by leveraging loyalty programs, we can help make Atlantic City a preeminent destination location.”
“I’m very pleased that he has opened his mind to the possibility of helping the state’s gaming business statewide. Atlantic City is under tremendous strain, and we can’t just abandon them,” Caputo stated.
On the other hand, Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, the leading proponent of sports betting bill in NJ was disappointed the referendum cannot be included on this year’s ballot.
“I congratulate Senator Sweeney for opening this door, but we need to walk through it with a referendum on this year’s ballot,” said Lesniak.
Sweeney responded by saying “we can’t do it this year because we’d have to get it done by July 14. We aren’t rushing this – it’s too big.”