As talks continue about expanding casino gaming beyond Atlantic City, a new survey of a small group of North Jersey business leaders found that most feel the Meadowlands Sports Complex is the best location for a new gaming hall.
Answering a questionnaire by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, 76 percent of 93 respondents said they preferred the East Rutherford complex over other destinations, including Sussex County/Vernon Valley and the Jersey City waterfront. The Sussex County site, which made a bid in the 1970s to establish a casino, was the second choice at 12 percent, while Jersey City was fourth with 3 percent.
The chamber’s membership is made up mostly of businesses in Bergen, Hudson and Essex counties.
The survey follows renewed talks among business leaders and state officials about expanding casinos to North Jersey, as Atlantic City faces the prospect of having four casinos close by the fall. The resort continues to reel from an eight-year decline in gaming revenue, which has fallen by nearly half since 2006.
Those talks came amid reports that venture capitalist Paul Fireman has been talking to public officials about a proposal for a $4.6 billion, 90-story casino in Jersey City.
The chamber’s 11-question survey poses other questions related to gaming in New Jersey and neighboring states. For instance, only 24 percent of respondents knew that more than 10 casinos had opened in neighboring states since 2008.
The organization is touting the results to renew its call for a redevelopment of the Meadowlands Sports Complex. A 3-year-old version of the plan calls for a 130,000-square-foot casino with 100 table games, 3,000 slot positions and an on-site hotel.
“Our elected leaders are now acknowledging that the decline of casino gaming revenue and Atlantic City’s transition into a resort destination cannot be solved within their original five-year timeframe,” Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber, said in a prepared statement. “(A)nd despite our business leaders not being fully informed on how dire the situation is, they are ready to address the rich New York Metro area customer base on an immediate basis.”
Expanding casino gaming beyond Atlantic City requires an amendment to the state constitution. Despite previous pledges to preserve Atlantic City’s monopoly through early 2016, state officials have now floated the idea of placing the amendment question on the November 2015 ballot.
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