Governor Christie Signs Landmark Legislation to Revitalize Atlantic City

Legislation marks key step in Christie Administration’s comprehensive plan to renew regional economy

Trenton, NJ – Today, Governor Chris Christie signed into law sweeping legislation to enact his reform plans to revitalize the ailing gaming and tourism industries in Atlantic City, and set the region on a new course for economic growth, job creation and prosperity.  Recognizing the significance and importance of Atlantic City’s regional economy to the state as a whole, Governor Christie put forward a comprehensive, bold reform plan in July aimed at turning around the deep and unprecedented challenges facing Atlantic City’s gaming and tourism industries. 


The bills signed by Governor Christie today, S-11 and S-12, represent critical steps in following through on his commitment to the tens of thousands of New Jersey families whose livelihoods depend on the regional economy, and will set the stage for Atlantic City to once again be a world-class destination resort and an engine of job creation and economic growth.  S-11 authorizes the creation of a tourism district within Atlantic City, with the charge of improving public safety, public health, marketing and infrastructure projects and improvements; S-12 provides for the reform and modernization of New Jersey’s casino regulatory structure.


“The challenges faced today by the Atlantic City tourism and gaming industries have been a long time in the making, and significant steps are needed to stop the decline and set a new course of economic growth, job creation and return Atlantic City to the ranks of the best destinations in the world.  But, it can and must be done for the economic health of New Jersey as a whole,” said Governor Christie.  “Since we announced our plan for reform just over six months ago, we have already taken steps to secure that future – to stabilize the City’s finances and create jobs through new business investment.  Today, we are going much further to signal to businesses, to the public and to the people who call Atlantic City home that a new, brighter and more prosperous future is coming again.”


The signing took place at the site of the Revel casino resort, a 53-story, 6.3 million square foot, 3,800 room hotel and casino that, upon completion, will be the biggest such property in Atlantic City.  Governor Christie also announced the approval of $260 million in tax-increment financing by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority that will support much needed infrastructure improvements in the South Inlet neighborhood adjacent to the Revel development and pave the way for completion of the $2.5 billion project and thousands of new jobs.  The project estimates the creation of 5,500 permanent jobs, 2,600 construction jobs, 1,100 manufacturing jobs, 400 vendor/supplies jobs and 250 professional/consulting jobs.  Along with job creation associated with ancillary utility and infrastructure improvement projects, total job creation for the Revel project is estimated at more than 10,000 jobs.


The New Jersey Economic Development Authority also today approved a new policy requiring as a condition of any tax increment financing package of $50 million or more, including the Revel financing approved today, that the state receive success reimbursement payments from the project commensurate with the extent of state financial participation.


S-11 implements several critical elements of Governor Christie’s revitalization plan for Atlantic City.  The bill authorizes the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to establish a tourism district within Atlantic City.  Within the territorial limits of the tourism district, CRDA will be authorized to establish land use regulations, implement a tourism district master plan, promote public health and safety initiatives, advance commercial development, undertake redevelopment projects and institute infrastructure improvements.  The bill also provides for the merger of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority into CRDA.  CRDA will also enter into a public-private partnership with a not-for-profit consisting of a majority of New Jersey casino licensees, through which they will commit funds totaling $30 million annually for the development and implementation of a marketing program aimed at promoting Atlantic City. In October, the Casino Association of New Jersey announced the formation of such a non-profit and the commitment of the casino industry to contribute at least $30 million annually to promote Atlantic City and support the tourism district.


S-11 directs the Attorney General and Superintendent of State Police, in consultation with the Mayor of Atlantic City and municipal law enforcement officials, to develop a public safety plan for Atlantic City to be implemented by a District Commander appointed by the Superintendent.  The plan will include the development of law enforcement best practices, the procurement and deployment of new technology and equipment, and the development and implementation of a coordinated law enforcement strategy to address public safety concerns both inside and outside of the tourism district.


S-12 reforms the state’s regulatory structure for casinos by modernizing, streamlining, and eliminating duplication in the regulatory statutes, many of which were authored more than 30 years ago.  Under the bill, the Casino Control Commission (CCC) is assigned the lead role in initial casino licensing matters as well as in adjudicating regulatory disputes.  The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is charged with focusing on the day-to-day regulation of all casino operations.  These changes move away from the duplicative and overlapping investigative, oversight, and regulatory functions previously held by the two-bodies and creates a more well-defined system of regulatory authority by the entities.


In addition, S-12 accounts for the significant technological advancements that have taken place since the inception of the regulatory statue by eliminating the current requirement that the Casino Control Commission be continuously present, through inspectors and agents, at all times during the operation of a casino.  The bill provides for registration as opposed to licensure of certain casino-related employees and removes certain periodic license renewal requirements.  The bill would, however, add a requirement for designated information to be provided periodically by licensees to the CCC and DGE in order to verify ongoing compliance with all legal requirements. 


Finally, the bill makes various other changes to state law to remove impediments to efficient and productive casino operations and provide additional flexibility in their operation. 


On July 21st, Governor Christie welcomed and endorsed the recommendations of the New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Advisory Commission chaired by Jon F. Hanson.  The actions taken today fulfill many of the goals outlined in that report, and move forward Governor Christie’s commitment to ensuring the growth and success of Atlantic City’s economy, and the state’s gaming and tourism industries.


Posted: February 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Atlantic City, Chris Christie, Hanson Report, Press Release | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Oceanport Task Force Contiunes Fight For Horse Racing

VLT’s, slot machines, or an all out gaming casino in the Meadowlands is the only way to protect horse racing in New Jersey

Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace delivered the following report regarding the borough’s Monmouth Park Task Force at this evenings council meeting:

On Monday January 10th our Monmouth Park Task Force met to discuss the future of Monmouth Park as it pertains to the recent Hanson Report Part 2.  Our Task Force meeting was attended by a varied cross section of members including two former New Jersey State Senators, a horse veterinarian, thoroughbred owners, and concerned Oceanport residents.  The meeting was very specific and our participants quite vocal and knowledgeable.  Our Task Force once again maintained the position that VLT’s, slot machines, or an all out gaming casino in the Meadowlands is the only way to protect horse racing in New Jersey.  All the surrounding states of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland now have some form of gaming at their race tracks.  This uneven playing field enables our competitors to lure New Jersey horseman out of State with larger purses and better quality horse racing.


Knowing the current legislative posture in New Jersey and knowing that gaming is not coming to the Meadowlands this year, our Task Force was once again proactive in seeking solutions to get us through 2011 and beyond.  Among the suggestions were: working with Monmouth Park to seek alternative revenue streams such as a boardwalk type facility in the picnic area, upscale restaurants, concerts, retail boutiques and perhaps even a hotel.  Anything to make Monmouth Park more desirable as an asset to the State, not just for horse racing, but as a destination place in the heart of the Jersey Shore.


The Task Force continues to ask for the actual financials of Monmouth Park, not of the full New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, of which Monmouth Park belongs.  Are the numbers the State uses correct when they say the facility loses $6 million?  We do not think so and would like to see the empirical evidence.


We continue to be concerned with the possible veto of a bipartisan bill approved in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly that would enable horse racing to not only survive, but to thrive.  It is important to remember that horse racing contributes 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space to New Jersey.


Our Governing Body and our Task Force will continue to lobby our elected officials on behalf of Monmouth Park.  It is important not only to Oceanport and Monmouth County, but to the state of New Jersey as well.

Posted: January 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Hanson Report, Horse Racing Industry, Joe Irace, Monmouth Park | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments »

Hanson Report: No Benefit for Monmouth Park, Horse Owners, Race Fans

iraceBy Joe Irace

The latest version of The Hanson Commission’s Report on gaming does nothing for the long term benefit of Oceanport and/or Monmouth Park and puts the Standardbred and Thoroughbred owners and trainers at odds with each other.  The report calls for bringing Harness Racing to Monmouth Park to run at night in the winter months.  The estimated costs to the State of New Jersey for the winterization of part of the grandstand, changing track surfaces and reconfiguring some of the barns for Standardbred Horses is $4.6 million.  Winter harness racing would necessitate the installation of lights at our “historic” track right in center of a residential neighborhood.  While we as a Council would love to do whatever it takes to protect Monmouth Park and help it not only survive, but thrive, this Commission’s proposed plan ignores the most obvious socially and fiscally responsible solution: allowing for the installation of video lottery terminals, slot machines or a gaming casino at the Meadowlands.


Both the Standardbred owners and the thoroughbred owners are united in their opposition to a dual meet at Monmouth.  The Standardbred owners have perhaps the best track in the country, at the Meadowlands, located in an industrial area off of Route 3, 7 miles from midtown Manhattan.  It is foolhardy to expect their loyal patrons to travel 1 hour South of East Rutherford to Oceanport to enjoy Harness Racing when Yonkers Raceway, 30 minutes away from East Rutherford, offers the same product AND a casino.  The thoroughbred owners have enjoyed Monmouth Park for years and would much rather race on the surface that currently exists. Let’s not forget that   the two most interested parties, the horsemen and the general public, are clamoring for a racino at the Meadowlands facility, the Commission dismisses the idea out of hand in favor of a proposal that provides neither party with what it wants.


Two reports by Christiansen Capital Advisors, commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Treasury, recommended the installation of slot machines at the Meadowlands. The reports stated that 5,000 machines at the Meadowlands would produce $750 million annually and that 10,000 machines would produce $1.5 billion annually. The same study suggested that 2,100 slots at the Meadowlands would reduce Atlantic City gross gaming revenue by a mere .01 percent.


Senator Sean Kean recently said on the New Jersey Senate floor “if it (a Racino at the Meadowlands) were put to a vote we’d probably get a majority, if not a super-majority (in support), to save horse racing in the state of New Jersey.”  Despite the overwhelming financial benefits flowing from such an arrangement, the Hanson Report summarily dismisses the installation of Video Lottery Terminals, slot machines or a gaming casino in the Meadowlands.


Chairman Hanson, through his Commission, which, interestingly, includes no horsemen, refuses to acknowledge the viability of the racino model and, instead, continues to dump on our horse racing industry and the 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape which come along with it. Racinos around the country employ nearly 30,000 people. Bringing racinos to New Jersey will create thousands of new jobs. Additionally, it will solidify many jobs that may be in danger of leaving our state in favour of states that have already authorized racino legislation. Racinos are a proven model that states around the country are turning to for gaming. Twelve states have already implemented racinos and many more are debating proposals to allow them in the near future. In 2009, racinos around the country generated $2.6 billion dollars in tax revenue for state and local governments. Additionally, they strengthen the state’s agricultural industry. Racinos allow existing racetracks to grow their purses, spurring new investments in breeding racehorse ownership throughout the state. Additional racehorses will create more jobs and improve the overall economic impact. As Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and the nine other racino states can attest – racinos improve the rural economy.

Racinos that have reinvested their windfalls into racing, such as Sunland Park in New Mexico which hosts the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby, which Mine That Bird used as a launching pad to his Kentucky Derby victory, and Prairie Meadows in Iowa, which hosts the Iowa Festival of Racing, with three graded stakes that attracted full fields of competitive, quality horses in 2010 are just two examples of the proven business model.

Let’s do everything we can to get this matter to a vote of the New Jersey legislature as soon as possible!



2009 Tax Distributions  

Total Racino Jobs  



















New Mexico 



New York 









Rhode Island 



West Virginia 




$2.6 Billion 


Source: “Economic Impact: Racetrack Casinos,” American Gaming Association, 2010.

Joe Irace is the Council President of Oceanport, NJ

Posted: December 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Hanson Report, Horse Racing Industry, Joe Irace | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »