Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee Chair Ralph Caputo on Friday urged New Jersey voters to support the North Jersey casino referendum that will be on the ballot this November and reject outside influence aimed at defeating it.
“There’s no doubt about it. Powerful and well-heeled political, corporate and labor interests outside New Jersey will spend whatever it takes to defeat the Referendum for North Jersey casinos in order to keep billions of dollars of our gaming revenue flowing out of New Jersey and into their pockets,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “They like things exactly the way they are, and will use innuendo and outlandish accusations to convince New Jersey taxpayers to vote against our own best interests because it benefits them, and that offends me.”
Caputo was referring to the aggressive and expensive multi-media (TV, radio, print and direct mail) campaign recently unleashed by opponents of the November 8th referendum on an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution that will expand casino gaming outside Atlantic City to allow two casinos in the northern part of the state.
“They are spending a heck of a lot of money, and that fact alone should make voters wonder just who these people are,” said Caputo. “Unfortunately, and conveniently for them, they are able to hide their identities through their 501c4 tax status which, according to published reports, prevents such disclosures.”
Caputo explained that the days of Atlantic City’s monopoly on casino gambling east of the Mississippi River came to an end years ago, hastened by the proliferation of casinos and “racinos” (casinos located at race tracks) all over the East Coast, including Atlantic City’s former market in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and beyond.
“People no longer have to travel great distances to gamble,” said Caputo. “For many, gambling has evolved into a pastime of convenience and we, Atlantic City and the State of New Jersey, are losing a huge portion of that customer base to facilities that are simply easier to reach.
“If we are going to address the reality of ‘convenience gambling’ and reverse the trend of taxable gaming revenue leaving New Jersey, we must adapt. If we are going to recapture this lucrative source of government revenue for the benefit of seniors, the disabled, education, transportation infrastructure and property tax relief here in New Jersey, rather than continue to allow our money to fund those same efforts in neighboring states, we must expand our gaming opportunities. We must make gambling convenient. That’s exactly what the Legislature intended by approving the constitutional amendment and presenting it to the voters in a referendum. And that’s exactly what the opening of two new casinos in the north will do.”
Caputo emphasized that the addition of new casinos in North Jersey, coupled with Atlantic City’s current offerings, will expand the state’s gambling portfolio, make it more competitive with neighboring states, and help reclaim New Jersey’s place in the gambling market.
“We want to build on the success and revenue Atlantic City has brought to the state over the years, but just not continue to put all of New Jersey’s ‘eggs’ in that one basket,” added Caputo.
Caputo extolled the new jobs, the boost to the state’s economy, and the flow of revenue into the state’s coffers that the new casinos will generate to the benefit of all of New Jersey. But he reiterated that defeating the referendum, as interests outside New Jersey are so determined to bring about, will dash those hopes.
He reminded voters to reject the cynical and self-serving efforts of outsiders “…to convince us to vote against our own best interests” by saying, “A ‘YES’ vote helps US, and a ‘NO’ vote helps THEM. We can’t allow that to happen.”