JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two state lawmakers have been pushing to set up casinos in northern New Jersey, but they – along with a developer who wants to build a casino in Jersey City – have been hit with some obstacles.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Paul Fireman, the developer behind the Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, has now proposed a 95-story hotel and casino nearby.
The luxury tower would loom over the Statue of Liberty. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said no other casino – not in New York, and not in Pennsylvania – could rival it.
“We have actually modeled this out,” Fulop said. “This would be the highest grossing casino in North America. Being you have 5 million adults within 30 minutes; you have 12 million adults within an hour.”
Casinos in New Jersey are now only allowed in Atlantic City. But legislation was recently introduced to amend the state constitution and put a referendum on the ballot to let voters decide.
Some lawmakers in southern New Jersey have expressed concern that casinos elsewhere in the state would mean competition for Atlantic City and destroy the gaming industry there.
CBS 2 asked experts what they thought.
“North Jersey casinos are exactly what New Jersey needs,” said Bloomberg analyst Brian Miller. “What’s happened over the last decade is Atlantic City has waned due to the proliferation of casinos in neighboring states.”
Under the legislation, only two casinos — including one at the Meadowlands racetrack in East Rutherford — would be allowed in northern New Jersey. A total of $100 million from those casinos would go to Atlantic City to turn it into a destination resort.
“Atlantic City is facing competition from elsewhere,” Fulop said. “You have to be realistic that the market is changing, that Atlantic City needs to change.”
Many residents in upscale Jersey City neighborhoods said they like the idea of a casino next door.
“I think that’s great,” said Janet Rosario. “One, I don’t drive, I have kids, and once in a while, I like to gamble. And that would be a perfect opportunity. I could take the bus, walk.”
But others were concerned.
“It would be a zoo down here,” one Jersey City resident said.
“I am afraid what the traffic is going to be like,” added another resident, Rachel Robbins.
For now, the casino project in northern New Jersey has been placed on hold, because state senators proposing the bill have not been able to get the support of key lawmakers in southern New Jersey.
The earliest anything can be placed on a ballot is next year. Gov. Chris Christie has said he is open to whatever Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, decides.
CBS 2 reached out to developer Fireman about the proposed Jersey City project. His firm had not responded by early Thursday evening.
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