By MICHAEL CLARK Press of A.C. Staff Writer | Mon. November 22, 2010
The bill, which will now go to Gov. Chris Christie for his signature, paves the way for the first new casino licenses since Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened in 2003. State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, sponsored the bill.
One developer would now have the option of building a small-scale casino that could not have more than 20,000 square feet of casino gaming space and would be required to have at least 200 hotel rooms. A second developer could build a “staged” casino facility with no more than 30,000 square feet of gaming space and at least 200 hotel rooms, providing it expanded to 500 rooms within five years of being licensed.
The Assembly approved the bill to allow what has been called “boutique casinos” by vote of 78-0, with one abstention. The Senate voted 32-0. After the Senate vote, Whelan turned to an audience member behind him and gave a thumbs up.
“I’ll feel better when the governor signs it, but I’m happy the legislative process is over,” he said.
Whelan said he expected Christie to sign off on the bill. Asked what led him to those expectations, he pointed to the fact that no Republicans voted against it.