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Assemblyman Ralph Caputo on Tuesday pointed to the development plan laid out yesterday by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce as yet another reason why the Legislature needs to move forward quickly with a measure he has sponsored to explore future gaming prospects in Bergen County.

“This is not about taking business away from Atlantic City. This is about missing out on the available markets in northern New Jersey and the surrounding region. With continuously encroaching competition from New York and Pennsylvania, the longer we wait, the more our window of opportunity closes,” said Caputo (D-Essex).

The $1.4 billion development plan laid out by the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce would include a casino, a conference center, an athletic and aquatic center and several hotels.

Caputo noted that the inclusion of a casino in the plan further underscores the need for the Legislature to move quickly in passing a measure (AJR65) he has sponsored that would create a 13-member “Casino Gaming Study Commission” to explore, among other things, the future prospects for casino expansion to Bergen County. The measure passed the Assembly with overwhelming support in January and now awaits Senate action.

A January report by Spectrum Gaming Associates noted that revenue at regional casinos is surging.

“With each new industry report issued, it’s becoming clear that New Jersey is at risk of being left in the dust when it comes to localized gaming experiences. Atlantic City will always be a prized destination point, but for those that want a quick and easy getaway, perhaps for just a few hours, they are increasingly turning to Pennsylvania and New York for this convenience.

“Meanwhile, we have some of the most prized real estate in the Northeast languishing when we could be capitalizing on the proximity of the Meadowlands to lure patrons from New York City and the surrounding suburbs. Now is the time to concentrate on finding the best ways to utilize gaming to boost the North Jersey economy and our state as a whole,” added Caputo.