Governor Chris Christie’s proposal for a state takeover of part of Atlantic City — the casino and entertainment zones — stems from a report from the Governor’s Advisory Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment.
The report’s recommendations deal with, among other things, revitalizing Atlantic City’s gaming industry and changes to the horse racing industry in the state.
Here’s a look at the report, released by the Governor’s Office, as it pertains to Atlantic City and Atlantic City Race Course in Mays Landing, which could expand to a 10 -day meet.
Improving the Competitiveness of the Gaming Industry – A Comprehensive Approach and Commitment to Atlantic City
Casino gaming represents one of New Jersey’s largest industries, accounting for nearly $1 billion in state and local taxes (state taxes are constitutionally dedicated to programs for seniors and the disabled) and more than $2 billion in revenues spread across more than 2,000 businesses.
However, since 2007, the industry has been in serious decline, losing more than 25% of its gross revenue base (equating to $1 billion in lost revenues). Employment has slipped from 50,000 jobs to 38,000 and all other market indicators are trending negatively. While there can be agreement that it is in the interest of the State to encourage growth in the Atlantic City-based gaming industry, it is clear to the Commission that immediate attention must be directed at stabilizing the industry before efforts can be made to improve it.
The Commission recommends an economic framework that focuses on job creation, capital investment, regulatory reform and increased tax revenues. These goals include:
· Creating a “Clean and Safe” Tourism District with State oversight, with the goal of making Atlantic City clean and safe by July 1, 2011.
· Creating a Master Plan for the new Tourism District, focused on enticing new entrants to build both gaming and non-gaming attractions that will increase demand in the City. The Plan should be delivered to the Governor no later than July 1, 2011.
· Improving the financial stability of Atlantic City by attracting other world class operators to ownership of the eleven existing facilities as well as any new ones.
· Increasing the meeting and convention business in the Atlantic City market by at least 30% per year for the next five years.
· Bringing the New Jersey regulatory structure into the 21st century by reducing costs and redundancies and by supporting the attraction of operators while maintaining strict integrity.
· Increasing visitation and spending through joint marketing efforts on par with other national destination resorts.
· Improving intermodal transport to Atlantic City, including increasing air, rail and ferry options.
Creation of a Sustainable Industry Structure to Preserve Live Horseracing – Reinvigorating Horseracing in New Jersey
In an effort to stabilize New Jersey’s ailing horseracing industry, the Commission recommends immediate implementation of an experimental short term plan in 2010 to reinvigorate the sport. The plan calls for the elimination of the thoroughbred meet at the Meadowlands and the creation of a 50-day summer meet with a $1 million a day purse at Monmouth Park (the “50-day meet”).
A 21-day weekend fall meet is also planned at Monmouth to supplement the 6 days of turf racing at Atlantic City Race Course. These changes were legislatively approved and signed into law by Governor Christie in May. A number of future potential options include:
· Thoroughbred racing at Monmouth and Atlantic City (a 50-71-day meet at Monmouth Park and potentially 10 days of turf racing at Atlantic City).
· Thoroughbred Racing at Monmouth and potentially 10 days at Atlantic City and 70 standard bred dates at Monmouth.
· Lease the Meadowlands Racetrack to the standard bred horsemen for $1 dollar a year for three years with early termination rights and an equity-based share of the Bayonne OTW parlor.
· Convert to a commercial use one of the standard bred farms in New Jersey that has a mile track, and build a 5,000 seat grandstand complete with all necessary amenities.