WAYNE PARRY , THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013
ATLANTIC CITY,N.J.- The president of Atlantic City’s largest casino workers’ union called on Gov. Chris Christie to sign an Internet gambling bill, saying online betting revenue could make the difference between two or more casinos surviving or having to close.
Bob McDevitt, head of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, said Thursday he supports the bill as a way to preserve the jobs of thousands of casino workers.
“In the past several years,Atlantic Cityhas suffered as the result of increased competition from neighboring states,” he said. “Gaming revenues have declined by 40 percent, causing reduced tax revenue for programs that supportNew Jersey’s seniors, fewer jobs and reduced wages for casino workers as the casinos need fewer employees to staff the facilities. The Internet gaming bill givesNew Jerseythe opportunity to change that.”
McDevitt cited studies projecting that Internet gambling inNew Jerseycould produce $650 million to $850 million in revenue in its first year, and $1.5 billion annually within a few years.
“We believe that this increased revenue could make the difference between two or more casinos staying open or closing,” he said. “Keeping those casinos open means saving more than 3,000 jobs. This bill will allowAtlantic Cityto compete more effectively, increase tax revenues and save thousands of jobs.”
TheNew Jerseylegislature passed an Internet betting bill in December; Christie has about a week left to act on it.
He vetoed a similar bill in March 2011, citing concerns about its constitutionality and the proliferation of back-room Internet betting parlors. The governor has given no indication whether changes made to the most recent bill will be enough to win his support.
The bill would legalize the online playing, for money, of any game currently offered at the 12Atlantic Citycasinos, including poker. In order to comply with a requirement of the state Constitution that casino gambling be conducted only in Atlantic City, all computers, servers, monitoring rooms and hubs used to conduct the online gambling must be located either in a restricted area on the premises of a casino, or in a secure facility inaccessible to the public off the grounds of a casino but within the city limits of Atlantic City.