Bets Are Off: NJ Gov Plans AC, Meadowlands Overhaul

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010  |  Updated 7:25 PM EDT
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Governor plans to overhaul all state gambling in <a title=New Jersey." />

Governor plans to overhaul all state gambling in New Jersey.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected today to proposes a massive overhaul of the state’s gaming industry, including a complete conversion of Atlantic City and the possible closing of the Meadowlands Racetrack, published reports said.

The Atlantic City takeover removes virtually all local control from the gaming district, from police protection to garbage pickup, the New Jersey Star Ledger reports.

In a plan expected to be released today, New Jersey's governor is expected to propose a state-appointed authority that would include county officials, industry leaders and university officials would take control of Atlantic City’s casino and entertainment district. That new authority, controlled by the state, would create a block-by-block plan to revive Atlantic City's as a beachfront resort with gambling.

The massive changes don't stop there. Christie is expected to propose leasing the Meadowlands racetrack to the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association for $1 a year, or simply ending horse racing there and converting the building to an off-track betting hall.

“In Atlantic City, you have to revitalize the Boardwalk and the marina district and deal with the night life,” said the adviser, an executive who has been briefed on the governor’s proposals told the New York Times. “Turn it back into a brand that attracts people.”

Horse racing at state tracks is expected to lose $22 million this year, in spite of tens of millions of dollars in subsidies.
The changes will lead to a virtual disbanding of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the state agency that operates those properties, as well as the Izod Center and three convention centers, the Times reports.

According to the Star Ledger, which has seen a draft of the proposal, the plan includes:

• Converting Atlantic City’s entertainment and gaming districts -- including beaches and casinos -- into an independent city within a city overseen by state government.

• The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority would be all but disbanded, becoming simply a landlord for the facilities it now operates.

• The Meadowlands Racetrack could be sold for a token $1.

• In addition, the state would help re-finance the long-stalled Xanadu project in the Meadowlands, enabling a new developer to take control of the massive and often criticized retail and entertainment complex.

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