New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last summer laid out a somewhat vague plan that would create a “tourism district” within the city of Atlantic City that would be operated by a state agency, not by the city government. At the same time, he wanted to cut off funding for racing in New Jersey, where the state owns the two top racetracks.
But the translation from theory to reality has proven to be a difficult path. Most of the reason for the difficulty is the fact that the Democratic Party controls the state legislature and Christie is a Republican. Other problems include traditional rivalries between North Jersey—where most of the racetracks are located—and South Jersey, where Atlantic City is the main economic engine, as well as more bitter rivalry between the casinos and the tracks.
A package of bills that would create the tourism district, reduce regulatory costs on the casino industry and aid racetracks by putting some of those savings toward the racing industry was being considered prior to the holidays. Observers say that the governor and the legislature were close to a compromise late in the month.
Another bill being considered sets up a 13-member “Casino Gaming Study Commission,” which will look at legalizing gaming outside Atlantic City. The majority leaders in the Senate and Assembly would each appoint four members, while the minority leaders in the legislature would each appoint two members. The governor would be responsible for the 13th member.