Assembly Democratic Bill to Bring Gaming to North Jersey, Help Atlantic City & Fund Programs & Property Tax Relief for Senior & Disabled Residents Gets Public Hearing

Caputo, Prieto, Schaer, Vainieri Huttle, Mukherji, Lagana,
Eustace, Caride, Jimenez, Johnson, McKeon, Giblin, Oliver, Spencer, Jasey, Tucker & Pintor Marin Bill Would Allow Two North Jersey Casinos, Provide Significant Funding for Programs & Property Tax Relief for Seniors and Disabled & Help Atlantic City and Horse Racing Industry

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Judiciary Committee held a required public hearing Thursday on legislation sponsored by Assembly Democratic lawmakers to ask voters to allow casino gaming in North Jersey and use money from that expansion to fund programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, along with help for Atlantic City and the horse racing industry.
Under current law, casino gambling is permitted only in Atlantic City, but the constitutional amendment proposed by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo, Speaker Vincent Prieto, Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji, Joseph Lagana, Tim Eustace, Marlene Caride, Angelica Jimenez and Gordon Johnson would allow the Legislature to pass laws to permit casinos in two northern New Jersey counties. Also added as sponsors are John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris), Tom Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic), Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic), L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex), Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex) and Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex).
“This is a game-changing proposal for New Jersey taxpayers,” said Caputo (D-Essex), chairman of the Assembly gaming committee. “We would modernize our gaming industry and provide significant relief for senior citizens and disabled residents. It’s truly a win for everyone.”
“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 Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “A modernized gaming industry will compete with other states and provide a hefty infusion of money for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents. This bill does the right thing for both Atlantic City and our senior and disabled residents. This is something everyone can support.”
Under current law, casino gambling is permitted only in Atlantic City in Atlantic County. This constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to pass laws to permit the establishment and operation, under regulation and control by the state, of casinos in two other counties of this state. No more than two casinos would be permitted and only one casino in each of the two counties would be permitted. Also, each casino is to be located in a municipality that is at least 72 miles from Atlantic City.
Only the following would be eligible for the initial license to operate one of the casinos in another county. Persons whose majority equity owners:
· Are holders of a New Jersey casino license that were operating a casino which was conducting gambling as of the date of passage by the Legislature of this concurrent resolution; or
· Were principal owners of a holder of a New Jersey casino license that was operating a casino which was conducting gambling as of the date of passage by this Legislature of the concurrent resolution, if that principal owner or subsidiary also holds a valid license to own and operate a casino in another jurisdiction with licensing standards similar to those in New Jersey.
A principal owner will mean any person who, directly or indirectly, owns 50 percent or more of a holder of a New Jersey casino license that was operating a casino which was conducting gambling as of the date of passage by the Legislature of the concurrent resolution.
The law would determine the location and type of such casinos and of the gambling games which may be conducted. The law would also determine the tax rate to be levied upon the gross gaming revenues derived from the gambling operations.
The amendment specifies that the state revenues derived from the new casinos would be credited to a special New Jersey Investment Fund.
The resolution provides that, commencing in the first state fiscal year in which state revenues are derived from the new casinos, 4 percent in each state fiscal year would be divided equally among each municipality and each county in which a gambling establishment outside of Atlantic City is located and operating.
Then, commencing in the first state fiscal year in which State revenues are derived from the new casinos and for 15 fiscal years thereafter, the state revenues remaining in the investment fund in each state fiscal year, but not more than $300 million, would be dedicated as follows:
· 50 percent of the amount would be dedicated for the purposes of the recovery, stabilization, or improvement of the city of Atlantic City, and
· 50 percent of the amount would be dedicated as follows:
· 40 percent for the same purposes as the Atlantic City revenues are used, and
· 60 percent for state aid to each county and municipality in the state for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents.
Then, the state revenues remaining in the investment fund in each state fiscal year would be dedicated as follows:
· 35 percent of the amount would be dedicated for the purposes of the recovery, stabilization, or improvement of the city of Atlantic City, and
· 65 percent of the amount would be dedicated as follows:
· 40 percent for the same purposes as the Atlantic City revenues are used, and
· 60 percent for State aid to each county and municipality in the State for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents.
For the next subsequent five state fiscal years, the percentage applied for the purposes of Atlantic City will decrease each year by ten percentage points from the prior state fiscal year percentage, and the percentage applied for current programs and senior and disabled resident relief will increase each year by 10 percentage points.
For those subsequent five state fiscal years, the percentage applied for the purposes of Atlantic City will decrease each year by 7 percentage points from the prior state fiscal year percentage, and the percentage applied for the purposes of programs will increase each year by 7 percentage points from the prior state fiscal year percentage.
Commencing in the first state fiscal year in which state revenues are derived from the new casinos and in each state fiscal year thereafter, of the percentage of revenues from the investment fund in each state fiscal year dedicated for the purposes of the recovery, stabilization, or improvement of the city of Atlantic City, 2 percentage points would be dedicated for the purposes of programs designed to aid the thoroughbred and standardbred horsemen in this state.
“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,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. “This proposal would help bring a brighter economic future for our state.”
“This bill is the right thing to do for our gaming industry, Atlantic City and our senior and disabled residents,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We can bring top-flight northern New Jersey while helping Atlantic City, benefiting everyone and ensuring New Jersey remains competitive.”
“This bill is about keeping New Jersey’s gaming industry relevant and viable, but it’s also about replenishing hundreds of millions in annual gross gaming revenues that we have lost to neighboring states in recent years and helping our seniors and disabled residents,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This is a common sense approach to modernizing our gaming industry.”
“With continuously encroaching competition from New York and Pennsylvania, the longer we wait the more our window of opportunity closes,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “New Jersey must stay competitive and ensure funding for vital programs and property tax relief.”
“We are losing gaming tourists to our neighbors and it is time we bring them back home to New Jersey, all while ensuring continued help for Atlantic City and viable funding for senior and disabled residents,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is, quite simply, the right thing to do.”
“We must move forward with a sensible statewide gaming plan that creates permanent jobs and economic development, while providing sustainable funding for senior and disabled residents,” said Caride (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Bringing gaming to these North Jersey counties would benefit the entire state.”
“The economic growth that would come from first-class casinos must help the entire state,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). “These counties have some of the most prized real estate in the Northeast, a talented labor pool and sit at the heart of major transportation corridors.”
“We cannot let this chance go by to modernize our gaming industry and boost essential programs for senior and disabled residents,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “All in all, this is the most sensible approach.”