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Assembly Panel Moves To Ask Voters For Casino Gambling In North Jersey

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen)
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) Photo Credit: COURTESY: Vincent Prieto

Bergen County Democratic state representatives on Thursday enthusiastically welcomed asking voters to allow casino gambling in two North Jersey counties -- possibly Bergen or Passaic, among others.

Under a proposed state constitutional amendment advanced by an Assembly Judiciary Committee that morning, the additional revenue would "provide significant funding for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, along with help for Atlantic City and the horse racing industry."

“I’ve long said North Jersey gaming was a matter of when, not if, and with this proposal, voters will get the chance to strengthen our state’s financial future,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "This is something everyone can support.”

“For a state sorely in need of new revenues for vital needs such as programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, this is a win-win,” added Gary Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee.

Under current law, casino gambling is permitted only in Atlantic City.

Under the proposed amendment, 63% of new state revenues the first 15 years would be divided in two: 48% for the same purposes as Atlantic City casino revenues (programs for seniors and the disabled); and 52% for state aid to each county and municipality for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents.

Meanwhile, 35% of the total revenues would be dedicated to help Atlantic City recover. The rest would go toward the horse racing industry.

As a proposed constitutional amendment, the bill must now sit on the desks of lawmakers for 20 days before being considered by the full Assembly -- after a public hearing.

If voters approve, state law would determine the location and type of casinos and the gambling games offered , as well as the tax rate on gross gaming revenues.

“This bill is the right thing to do for our gaming industry, Atlantic City and our senior and disabled residents,” Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) said. “We can bring top-flight casinos to northern New Jersey while helping Atlantic City, benefiting everyone and ensuring that New Jersey remains competitive."

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