After swearing in the first Hispanic councilman in Fairview history, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) spoke at length about the issues surrounding developing North Jersey casinos – calling the notion that this is the first round of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop vs. Senate Pres. Steve Sweeney (D-3) “an illusion” to distract from the facts.
Prieto, whose legislative district includes Fairview, swore in Jhon Gomez, a former board of education member. Also being sworn in were Councilman Stephen Russo and Mayor Vincent Bellucci.
After the fact, Prieto got down to brass tacks regarding the latest developments in trying to bring casinos to North Jersey.
He explained how the host municipalities/counties will benefit from this, why sending 35 percent of the tax revenues and having two casinos is a good compromise as well as why having one Atlantic City operator getting a North Jersey casino license is fair.
Prieto also noted that while it would be great to have this issue resolved by the conclusion of the legislatureâ€™s next session, â€œthe world doesnâ€™t end after January 11th.â€
Finally, Prieto addressed the elephant in the room as far as if this is political posturing ahead of the 2017 Democratic gubernatorial primary that is all but guaranteed to include Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop squaring off against Sweeney.
Richard McGrath, a spokesman for Sweeney, told us in an email that Sweeney originally wanted 50 percent of the tax revenues allocated to Atlantic City further stating that allowing Atlantic City operators to get both North Jersey licenses â€œis to protect the stateâ€™s interestâ€ since â€œa new operator could cannibalize existing New Jersey properties, thus hurting the overall revenues generated from the casinos.”
McGrath did not address the Fulop vs. Sweeney aspect surrounding the situation.
“The goal of the Atlantic City ownership provision is to protect the states interest. An existing operator would want to protect both assets and focus on attracting customers from out of state.Â A new operator could cannibalize existing New Jersey properties, thus hurting the overall revenues generated from the casinos. The goal is to unify the state and support New Jerseys casino industry. The compromise by Senator Sweeney here is significant.Â He amended his bill to make sure that an AC operator cannot prevent the development of a North Jersey casino.Â This does two things. One it ensures the development of a North Jersey casino and opens the door for sacrifice of AC potential.Â Senator Sweeneyâ€™s amendment makes a bold statement that he will not let anything stand in the way of a North Jersey casino at the same time the plan will build up the state’s casino sector and help revitalize Atlantic City.
A copy of Prieto’s casino bill can be read here, while Sweeney’s bill can be read here.