New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: Expansion of Gaming to Racetracks Benefits Taxpayers and Atlantic City

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Senator Joe Pennacchio reiterated his call for legislative Democrats to join two of the state’s largest public sector unions in supporting legislation expanding slot machines to the state’s racetracks to support both the pension system and the revitalization of Atlantic City and its casinos.

Senator Pennacchio’s proposed constitutional amendment, SCR-191, would allow video slot wagering at New Jersey’s horse racing facilities. (Wikimedia Commons)

Senator Pennacchio sponsors SCR-191 to allow slot machines at New Jersey’s four horse racetracks. The proposal, which was endorsed by the Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association and the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, dedicates revenue from the expanded gaming to support the state’s pension system, the revitalization of Atlantic City and its casinos and to the equine industry.

“SCR-191 presents the best opportunity to capitalize on expanded gaming in New Jersey for the benefit of taxpayers and Atlantic City itself,” said Pennacchio. “Expanding slot machines to the four racetracks will generate hundreds of millions of dollars to support the pension system and to revitalize Atlantic City without raising taxes or cutting services for families.”

Under SCR-191, the racinos could only be operated by a company that currently operates a casino in Atlantic City. Sixty percent of the revenue from gaming at the racinos would be dedicated to New Jersey’s public worker pension system, 30 percent would go to the current consortium of operating Atlantic City casinos, 7 percent would go to the recovery, stabilization, or improvement of Atlantic City and 3 percent would go to support state’s equine industry.

Pennacchio noted that unlike the plan to build two new casinos in North Jersey that was advanced by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday, his legislation would dedicate revenue to directly support the consortium of casinos that continue to operate in Atlantic City. The bigger their presence in Atlantic City, the bigger their presence and profit on this consortium.

“The casinos that continue to operate in Atlantic City have fought hard to survive and still employee thousands of employees,” said Pennacchio. “Adding full-fledged casinos in North Jersey will cannibalize their operations. My legislation will be mutually beneficial by allowing them to expand their operation to racinos in order to expand their base of customers, while still dedicating a portion of those new revenues to the group of current casinos as a whole.

“If my Democratic colleagues are serious about expanding gaming in New Jersey in a way that is best for Atlantic City and the state, SCR-191 should immediately be posted for a vote,” Pennacchio concluded.

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