As Atlantic City continues to make efforts to attract more visitors, an Assembly Committee is holding a hearing today to review the idea of allowing casino gambling in the Meadowlands.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a member of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, says, “The idea is to regain, and to defend ourselves against outside competition and to regain the actual tax revenue that the state of New Jersey is losing.”

He says he understands Atlantic City is afraid of any additional competition.

“But the fact is, the reality is, that they are facing competition at the present time…Something needs to be done to attract more gamblers to Jersey – the state of Pennsylvania at this point is now the second in the country behind Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue.  They’ve already surpassed the state of New Jersey.”

Caputo adds, “This is not an issue about Atlantic City- this is an issue for the state of New Jersey, and how we’re going to proceed in terms of how we’re going to proceed with this very difficult problem…We have a difficult time funding our pensions, funding homestead rebates for real estate tax relief.  This would be a tremendous source of revenue for the taxpayers of the state of New Jersey.”

In response, Caputo says he’s sponsoring legislation that would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to allow gambling in North Jersey.

“That’s what it should be – I mean no political person should make that decision.  I believe the people of the state of New Jersey should make the decision where they want to locate gaming in the state.”

He stresses, “This is not an anti-Atlantic City position -I was a casino executive in Atlantic City for 20 years – and I’m very attached to the people who work there.  I understand the difficult situation that they’re in, but the fact still remains that we’re dealing with this tremendous problem and losing revenue…Most of our gaming revenue -day-trippers at least – come from the North Jersey/New York area and we’re losing many of these customers to other destinations.”

Caputo adds “We’re not looking to take anything away from Atlantic City, but these other states are taking our lunch away from us- I mean they’re really doing a job on the state of New Jersey, so we’ve got to deal with this somehow…This discussion is important in terms of how we’re going to grow jobs, tax revenue, etc.”