TRENTON – Atlantic City’s casinos would remain open during a government shutdown regardless of how long it lasts under terms of legislation introduced by Senator Jim Whelan, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Jeff Van Drew. The bill, S-3421, would change current law that allows New Jersey’s casinos to keep their doors open for seven days after state government shuts down to keep the gaming halls open permanently. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo is sponsoring companion legislation in the Assembly.
“The casinos continue to be the driving force for the economy in the city and the entire region,” said Senator Whelan. “Atlantic City is turning around and to allow the casinos to close now or at any time in the future would be destructive to the lives of the casino workers and their families and would create an economic riptide with negative consequences for the entire city and region.”
The city’s casinos employ an estimated 50,000 workers and generate economic spin-off supported thousands of additional jobs.
“Atlantic City is a key part of the state’s tourism industry, which is one of the largest and most important segments of New Jersey’s economy,” said Senator Sweeney. “The city is in the early stages of an admirable comeback from challenging times. We want to see the recovery continue and protect the city from even the threat of a casino shutdown. It would be bad for business, bad for the city and bad for New Jersey.”
Senator Sweeney noted that there are many industries in New Jersey that operate under state regulation, but they are not forced to close during a government shutdown and that they continued to operate without negative consequences during both shutdowns.
Atlantic City’s casino market posted its first revenue increase in a decade last year and the casinos are becoming more profitable. The Atlantic City casinos now generate a total of $1.3 million in state taxes each day.
“A government shutdown for any length of time has consequences for our residents and the regional economy,” said Senator Van Drew. “We want to prevent any negative impact on the casinos and remove any threat or uncertainty if a shutdown occurs. The casinos are private businesses and we want them to continue to operate successfully – even if there is a government shutdown. When a private business like a casino closes it is not just a public policy issue, it affects the ability of people to support themselves and their families, to put food on the table and to pay their mortgage or their rent. ”
“Atlantic City’s hard-working casino employees and the small businesses that depend on them deserve better than to ever be shut down due to government impasse,” said Assemblyman Mazzeo. “My hope is that this law will never be needed, but the government should have a backup plan just in case. Removing the seven day rule so casinos never have to close is a no brainer.”
Atlantic City’s casinos depend on state monitors to stay up and running. The casinos are independent operations but they are regulated and monitored by the state and are required to have officials from the state Division of Gaming and the State Police on site when they are open for business.
After the three-day closure during the last shutdown in 2006, the Legislature enacted a law allowing casinos to stay open for seven days during a shutdown.
The legislation also covers New Jersey’s racetracks.
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