Bill to ensure casinos keep doors open despite Atlantic City shutdowns

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A group of Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey are pushing for a measure to protect Atlantic City’s casinos and racetracks should the state government ever face another shutdown, something lawmakers say they hope doesn’t happen again, but they want to be forthright in protecting the state’s economy in case it does.

An article on NJ.com explains that during the recent state government shutdown, the city’s casinos may have been forced to close if the impasse had lasted longer than a week.

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“But just days after the shutdown ended — without the gambling halls shuttering — a group of Democratic lawmakers from South Jersey are pushing a measure to make sure the state’s casinos and racetracks never face that threat again.”

The bill (S3421/A5126) would ensure that casinos and tracks keep their doors open indefinitely if a shutdown does occur.

“That would amend the current law — signed in the wake of the last shutdown, in 2006 — that says casinos and tracks are required to stay open, but only for the first seven days of a shutdown,” the article reads. “A 2008 law was designed to prevent that from happening during a state government shutdown. But there is a catch as New Jersey faces another budget impasse.”

State Sen. Jim Whelan commented saying that Atlantic City is once again becoming a popular destination and if the casinos close now, or at any time in the near future, it would be destructive to the lives of all of the people and families who are dependent on them to make a living – creating an economic riptide throughout the city and state that would end with negative consequences for everyone.

“The bill would have to be approved by both the Senate and Assembly and then signed by Gov. Chris Christie before becoming law,” the article reads. “Even though the city has lost five casinos in recent years thanks partly to increasing competition from neighboring states, Atlantic City’s seven casinos still employ about 50,000 workers and generate $1.3 million in state taxes each day. Plus, experts say the city is on the rebound lately after facing the threat of bankruptcy last year.”

During a 2006 shutdown 12 casinos in Atlantic City were forced to close their doors for three days, which cost the state about $4 million in casino tax revenue due to regulators and inspectors being unable to work.

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