Sen. Sweeney held ‘private discussions’ about bringing gambling to North Jersey
Jul 03, 2014 | 1766 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MEADOWLANDS -- State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of bringing gambling to North Jersey, revealed to The Record this week that he has been in private discussions with officials for the past year regarding allowing casinos in the region.

Sweeney, a democrat from South Jersey, has repeatedly stated that allowing gambling to North Jersey would further damage the already struggling Atlantic City gambling industry. Publicly he has strongly supported Gov. Christie’s five-year ban on any discussion of allowing gambling in the state outside of Atlantic City. The ban was part of a plan approved by Christie in 2011 to revitalize Atlantic City.

However, Sweeney said on July 2 that he has been in discussion privately with North Jersey officials about the possibility of adding the proposal to a November 2015 ballot, rather than waiting till November 2016. He noted that it was too late to include a referendum on the 2014 ballot.

Sweeney said his change of heart is contingent on Atlantic City receiving financial support from gaming facilities in other regions.

The Meadowlands are considered a prime location for casino gambling if it is allowed in North Jersey, with Jersey City also mentioned as a possibility.

Revenues in Atlantic City have declined by about half since their peak in 2006. One Atlantic City casino closed its doors this past January with another scheduled to close on Aug. 31 and a third potentially closing in August if a buyer cannot be found.

--Art Schwartz

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