Gov. Chris Christie Announces Plans to Ease New Jersey Gambling Regulations
The New Jersey casino industry has been struggling for quite a while now, but perhaps there is finally a little relief on the way. During a news conference last week, governor Chris Christie promised to loosen regulations on some Atlantic City casinos. Christie reportedly met with the heads of Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, two of the biggest gambling operators in Atlantic City, and agreed to a deal.
Christie said that the casino moguls are “ready to make further investments” in Atlantic City. The city has hit the financial skids recently, and the local government is currently under a state takeover in an attempt to improve the town from going completely bankrupt. The casino executives asked Christie for relaxed gambling regulations under New Jersey state law.
The governor said he plans to reveal the relief within 30 or 45 days, though there is no word yet regarding what steps will be taken to make it happen. Christie said, “We’re going to be working with them on additional ways we can bring Atlantic City’s regulations to the 21st century.”
Previous Regulation Tweaks Didn’t Work
New Jersey relaxed casino regulations six years ago, but it hasn’t really had the desired effect. Rather than make casino license holders undergo expensive reapplications every five years, the state now allows a casino license to be valid indefinitely. The state also decided to put day-to-day casino operation under the umbrella of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office rather than the Casino Control Commission.
As mentioned, the new rules haven’t helped much. Five casinos in Atlantic City alone closed in 2014, thanks in large part to growing competition from neighboring states.
Atlantic City Making a Comeback?
In recent months, though, things appear to be turning in the right direction. Hard Rock International bought the rights to the condemned Trump Taj Mahal back in March and plan to reopen the resort as a Hard Rock casino in the future. Hard Rock will pay $300 million to buy, renovate and re-open the facility. It may be open within the next year. If Hard Rock is confident they can turn a profit on an Atlantic City resort, it could be a sign that the city’s worst days are in the rearview mirror.
MGM and Caesars executive insist they are optimistic about the future of casinos in Atlantic City. MGM’s chairman, Jim Murren, says the company would not have invested so much money if it did not believe the city could turn things around.
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