Gov. Christie opposes gambling expansion to protect Atlantic City

July 26, 2012 05:30PM

Just as New York appears closer to legalizing gambling, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is blocking attempts to expand his state’s gambling options beyond Atlantic City, according to Bloomberg News.

After Pennsylvania legalized slots in 2006 and table games in 2010, it began usurping gambling revenue from Atlantic City. In fact, revenue for boardwalk casinos has fallen 37 percent since 2006, to $3.3 billion last year. And with more competition likely to arrive from New York, lawmakers want to amend the state constitution to allow casinos near the Meadowlands, closer to Manhattan.

But Christie said he wouldn’t back expansion until he knows for certain he can’t turn around Atlantic City. “Atlantic City deserves to have five years to try and get itself revitalized and back on its feet,” Christie has said. He’s working to encourage development in the area, and already gave a $261 million tax break towards the development of the boardwalk’s first new casino in a decade, the Revel.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Chairman Jeffrey Gural is pushing Christie to reduce his time frame. He owns the Meadowlands racetrack and wants to develop a casino on the site, which he said could net the state $350 million a year, depending on how it taxes that revenue. Most importantly, analysts say, it would help stop some of the cash-strapped state’s potential gaming revenue from trickling across state lines. [Bloomberg]