More casino gambling in New Jersey?

Letter: NJ is missing out {casino revenue}

New Jersey dropped the ball a long time ago when they had the chance to expand casino gambling outside of Atlantic City but failed to do so. For whatever reasons – other states quickly seized the opportunity (Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut) and only when the money started drying up in the Garden State is it now an “urgent” issue.

NJ Casino Xanadu bad bet for economy

Raj Mukerji supports more gambling in North Jersey

New Jersey “Assemblyman” Raj Mukerji spoke out about all the “benefits” of added gambling in Northern New Jersey. After you sort through all the buzz-words and other mumbo jumbo, let’s talk about reality (see my comments noted in the letter below):

“New Jersey is missing out.

Together with my colleagues, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Belleville, and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, I’ve sponsored legislation to give voters a choice to authorize up to three casinos in North Jersey and keep New Jersey’s gaming industry relevant and viable. This is about job creation[1] and helping Hudson County recover from the recession, replenishing hundreds of millions in annual gross gaming revenues that we have lost to neighboring states in recent years[2], and funding education, property tax relief[3], our mandatory pension contributions[4], and services for seniors and the disabled without raising taxes.

New Jersey is missing out on those tax revenues[5] and positive economic impacts[6], and we are missing out on those customers. They are going to Pennsylvania, New York, and other states that are enjoying the additional jobs created by the industry and revenues.

casino slot machinesTo be clear, we are merely proposing to put the question on the ballot and allow voters a choice[7]. But we’ve read the economic impact studies[8], we’ve heard from our constituents who need work[9], we’ve heard the anecdotes firsthand from people who are going out of state to gamble, and we’ve thoroughly evaluated arguments on all sides. And after careful consideration[10], I know how I’ll vote if the question is on the ballot, especially since no public subsidies are required to attract this level of private investment.

The economic growth that would come from high impact, world-class casinos in Hudson, Bergen, and Essex counties would help the entire state. Consider that there are 23 million adults within a 2 1/2-hour drive of Jersey City[11]. We have some of the most prized real estate in the Northeast[12], a talented labor pool[13], and sit at the heart of major transportation corridors[14]. Using these assets and capitalizing on our proximity to entice patrons from New York City and surrounding areas, we could recapture billions of dollars that have left our state. These dollars can go towards programs that assist our state’s low-income seniors and developmentally disabled residents[15].

Large-scale destination gaming in North Jersey is no panacea, but market analyses and economic studies indicate that these projects would create more than 20,000 good paying permanent jobs[16], in addition to thousands more construction and indirect jobs.

The location of a proposed Jersey City casino has been the source of some confusion. The casino would not be located downtown and certainly not at Liberty State Park. Rather, it will be along the waterfront south of the park. That alleviates some concerns about additional traffic to be created by such a destination, but investments will be made to address the remaining concerns.

Moreover, people could get there by highway, air, rail, and – uniquely – water. In addition, I would support an allocation of gaming revenues generated for the preservation and maintenance of nearby Liberty State Park in ways that allow our community to fully enjoy that national treasure as a free, open, green urban oasis. One example is the much-needed restoration of shuttle service to transport visitors from the light-rail train stop throughout the park[17].

The economic impact locally cannot be overstated[18]. Creation of gaming-related jobs has a ripple effect. The University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) found that communities closest to casinos experienced a 12 per cent to 17 percent drop in welfare payments, unemployment rates and unemployment insurance after the introduction of casino gaming[19].

casino drinking unhealthyThe gross gaming revenues from Atlantic City casinos were intended for programs that help our most vulnerable residents. But since 2006, those revenues have declined by 45 percent (losing over $2 billion to neighboring states). That doesn’t mean we should abandon Atlantic City. Its significance in the South Jersey regional economy impacts the entire state. That’s why I support dedicating a sizable portion of North Jersey gaming revenues and leveraging billions to boost non-gaming development in Atlantic City (which is amidst a supply contraction) and stimulate the South Jersey economy[20].

New Jersey is missing out, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Expanding gaming to northern New Jersey, including a destination casino resort in Hudson County with first-rate restaurants and entertainment options[21], will provide a desperately needed economic boost for the region, funding for programs that help our most vulnerable citizens[22], and create thousands of jobs.”

Gambling, games of chance; Beneficial to society? Cui Bono?

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the letter (see corresponding note numbers):

  1. “Job Creation.” Sure – maybe a couple thousand jobs will be created. But how come no one is looking into how OTHER businesses might be negatively impacted by making “easy gambling” just steps away from New Jersey residents? Remember, “the house always wins,” which will mean that potentially hundreds of millions of dollars will be TAKEN OUT of the NJ economy. Mom and pop shops. Or savings accounts for children. Or that “rainy day fund” for whatever. Keeping casinos as far away as possible in Northern New Jersey is good. Because most other casinos at this point require at least a little planning to attend. A stone’s throw from where you live? Hello, temptation!
  2. “Lost revenue.” Okay, maybe they have a point. But again, it’s prior “legislators” who should be blamed. But gambling, in the long run, is just another “hidden tax” type of revenue – regardless if they “give you a chance” to hit the jackpot. Remember, “the house always wins.”
  3. “Property Tax Relief.” I call bullshit. At the very best, they’ll lower taxes by like a millionth of a percent on year one, then craft up some other stupid excuse to pickpocket you. Remember, “the house always wins.”
  4. Pensions. Public pensions need to go away. Period.
  5. Tax revenues. Why are the politicians who talk about drastically reducing the role and size of “government” far and few between?
  6. Casino depression and debt

  7. “Positive economic impacts.” Only for the state – no one else (including you).
  8. “Merely proposing.” Uh, okay – just because you say it, doesn’t make it a fact. And using diminished verbiage (i.e., euphemisms) Mr. Raj quite possibly has certain “special interests” lingering nearby. He’ll deny it, though.
  9. “Studies.” It’s almost a given these days – that 99.9% of “studies” are done in reverse. Not to find out the real “truth,” but rather to further an agenda. Any agenda.
  10. “Need work.” People want 250k a year jobs doing nothing. Or “gubbmint handouts.” No such thing as hard work for pay anymore these days. Such a fluffy statement.
  11. “Careful consideration.” Bull. But it’s nice to see you’ve taken those “anecdotes” seriously.
  12. “23 million ~ Jersey City.” But out of those millions – who are closer to other casinos? And deal with the traffic congestion? Fugghedaboutit!
  13. “Prized Real Estate.” Perhaps – for the ultra-wealthy.
  14. “Talented Labor Pool.” Really? I’d beg to differ. I’ve met friendlier, more caring people the further you go away from NYC or the “Sixth Borough.” We have some of the most entitled, lazy, assholish people around. You ever been to a NYC casino? Worst ever! Good luck with that!
  15. “Transportation Corridors.” You mean congestion boxes of frustration?
  16. “Low Income Seniors / Developmentally Disabled.” Wait a fucking minute. Who said “the state” needs to care for these people? What about their families? They always dangle these “sad” cases of suffering in to unnecessarily add emotion to the mix. Unacceptable.
  17. “Permanent Jobs / Studies.” Where are they getting these numbers from? An average AC casino only employs a few thousand. Seems exaggerated to me.
  18. Liberty State Park. It’s okay, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call in an oasis by any means.
  19. Economic Impact. Do the math. Sure, some new jobs. Perhaps a little “trickle effect,” but remember “the house always wins.”
  20. Another study (out of Chicago). Believe the studies? Then they have you hook line and sinker. Look at the gross ghetto that surrounds Atlantic City. Need I say any more?
  21. “Stimulating economy.” Not gonna happen. What is said today – will change dramatically if or when this pans out. Perhaps gambling overall (including the stupid lotteries) should just go away?
  22. “Destination this or that.” If North Jersey, Hudson County isn’t already a destination – it will never be. How can you be in the shadows of New York City?
  23. “Vulnerable.” There they go again with social-justice buzzwords. Memo: We’re all vulnerable, and we all eventually perish. Stop with this nonsense!

Let’s stop pickpocketing ordinary people, can we?

Gambling is exciting. The prospects of possible “windfalls” are enticing.

broke womanBut they are far and few between – and any money a New Jersey resident “risks” is just that – RISKY.

The talk about revenue “lost” or sad “vulnerable” people takes away from the fact that people should probably NOT “risk” their savings for the remote chance that they can become rich.

Sure, some casino games like blackjack can be considered “entertainment,” but with a cost.

I don’t know – but humans are certainly succeptible to this “game of chance,” as it’s been around for a long time. Maybe there is a better way for money to exchange hands other than this clusterfuck of government, private investors and the allure of the glitzy casino. Maybe one day, this seductive – yet dangerous – temptation will just go away?

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