NJ Governor Chris Christie is delivering on his promises to shake things up in the Garden State: The Star-Ledger reported yesterday he was poised to announce an "unprecedented overhaul of New Jersey’s troubled gaming industry Wednesday — including a complete takeover of the Atlantic City casino and entertainment district, and the sell-off or shutdown of the struggling Meadowlands Racetrack." FYI: Taking over Atlantic City includes taking over police protection and garbage pickup and, for the Meadowlands take over, race tracks could be closed (hello, Nascar?) and the ugly Xanadu wall might go!
Christie convened a commission to examine how to fix the gaming and horse racing industries. Here are proposals, via the Star-Ledger:
• The state would seek to transform Atlantic City into a convention and family friendly resort, including a major expansion of the boardwalk that would include amusement rides. The entertainment areas would be placed under the control of a new state authority, essentially turning it into an independent city within a city.
• Money from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, now shared throughout the state, would stay in Atlantic City for projects and improvements there.
• The Meadowlands Racetrack could be sold for a token $1, or turned into an off-track wagering facility without live horse racing.
• The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority would be all but disbanded, becoming simply a landlord for the facilities it now operates. The Izod Center arena in the Meadowlands could be privatized or sold.
• The state would help re-finance the long-stalled Xanadu project in the Meadowlands, enabling a new developer to take control of the garish, high-visibility retail and entertainment complex alongside the New Jersey Turnpike that many consider an embarrassment.
According to the NY Times
, "Gambling revenues shrank by over 20 percent from $5 billion to $4 billion a year since 2007. As a result, 6 of the 11 casinos in Atlantic City are either in bankruptcy or going through major debt restructuring... Horse racing at state tracks is expected to lose $22 million this year, in spite of tens of millions of dollars in subsidies."
Democratic State Senator Jeff Van Drew told the Star-Ledger, "It certainly is bold, and I give him marks for that, because we really need to do something. We can’t just let Atlantic City die a slow death."