New Jersey legislators propose new bill to expand online gambling

Monmouth Park

New Jersey legislators are continuing to look at new ways to boost the gambling industry in the state after the November referendum to approve casinos outside of Atlantic City was rejected by voters. The gambling industry in New Jersey has suffered due to competition from neighbouring states and the newly opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland will impose pressure on the struggling casino industry.

A new bill proposes to give Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford and Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport the opportunity along with existing online casino operators in the state to provide online gambling services within a specified area inside the racetracks. These special online gambling centers will be referred to as internet cafes and are expected to boost the horse racing industry in the state.

However, Anthony Marino who is a retired executive with the South Jersey Transportation Authority and a local market analyst is not very convinced that this move will work as increasing online gambling opportunities in the state could result in a decrease in the number of people visiting the resorts. The Atlantic City Expressway’s Pleasantville Toll Plaza has provided an indication as to how many people head over to the resort. Back in 2009, over 23.9 million cars used the plaza but over the years this number has declined and in 2015 just 18.5 million cards passed through the toll plaza.

In a statement, Marino said “Allowing any form of casino-like gaming at the Meadowlands, Freehold or Monmouth Park racetracks would most likely have a negative impact on visitation numbers in Atlantic City, although probably not as much as allowing actual full-service casinos as proposed in the recently defeated North Jersey casino referendum. The rapid rise of internet gaming in New Jersey has already cut into visitor numbers traveling to Atlantic City; expanding that experience to racetracks close to the dense central and North Jersey population would give additional convenience gamblers reason to avoid the journey south to Atlantic City.”

Dennis Drazin who serves as an adviser to Monmouth Park is a supporter of the new bill as he believes that it will be beneficial to the resorts. Drazin stated that the new bill is a win-win for the casino industry and the race tracks. The bill would give the casinos the opportunity to decide if they want to offer online gambling services at their racetracks or not.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex is looking at introducing video lottery terminals at racetracks as he believes that based on a 1982 ruling by former Attorney General Irwin Kimmelman, the lottery terminals do not require a public referendum.

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