New Jersey Casinos: A Gamble Not Worth Taking

Frank Wilton, Editor-In-Chief

On November 8th, all New Jerseyans of voting age will face a decision that will alter the socioeconomic identity of the Garden State. The New Jersey Allowance for Casinos in Two Additional Counties Amendment will be on the ballot on election day, and, if passed, will expand the presence of casinos in areas throughout the state, not just in Atlantic City.

Various groups have become outspoken in the fights for and against this measure. Religious sects and various moral traditionalist organizations have been advocating against its enactment, while many senior citizen groups are highly in favor of the plan.

Though many will tell you casinos popping up around outside AC will provide New Jersey with a much needed an economic boom, it will do nothing but reverse progress in the state. 

Disregard, for the rest of this article, the moral hold ups you may have about the implementation of new casinos. Perhaps you deem it as a Satanic ritual that will leave New Jersey citizens Hell-bound. Maybe you see the contrary, and you view casinos as the ultimate center for fun for everyone old enough to be availed the services of a casino. Whatever issues or benefits you see in terms of the social aspect of casinos, they are null in the context of the great issue we will face economically.

If you care at all about the future of your state, your wallet, and you must vote against this bill on Election Day. 

The fiscal nightmare of Atlantic City is all the proof that many need that casinos aren’t the solution to the economic failures of certain regions. However, just because Atlantic City is troubled does not mean that a casino-based economy is always a negative (ever heard of Las Vegas).

The troubles with this plans lie within the logistics of its implementation and timing. One obvious pitfall to the plan is the cost. According to the nonpartisan voter activist group the League of Women Voters, each casino proposed would have to include an investment of at least $1 billion.  The source of these billions? Why, the taxpayers of course! New Jersey residents may be used to tax hikes by now (hopefully you filled your gas tank before today), but this may be just the beginning.

Though Governor Christie has claimed this gas tax will offset a decrease in property taxes, new taxes will be necessitated by casino expansion, thus nullifying the lowered property taxes (which many doubt will ever go into effect to begin with).

Moreover, the gambling industry itself has transcended to a point where it no longer needs to occupy a physical realm. With the introduction of online poker, fantasy sports, and virtual slots, the world of gambling is moving online.

The Statistics Portal reports that $45.86 billion dollars will be generated by online gambling this year globally. This is more than 13,000 times more than the amount of money Atlantic City will generate this year. This is only logical, as the internet is much more easily accessible, easily manipulated, and easily paid-for than large, physical casinos. 

If New Jersey wants to continue to generate funds to revive Atlantic City, new casinos are far from the answer. Rather, New Jersey should continue with the progress they made a few years back in allowing online gambling to grow in the state. A large portion of the revenue from which is pumped back into AC, and, from there, back into bolstering the lives of residents and reducing the tax burden of the citizens.