Ralph Caputo Searches for Gaming Alternative

by Kyle Miller

If the November referendum fails to pass in New Jersey, one lawmaker is trying to determine an alternative for gaming to expand.

Ralph CaputoIn the state of New Jersey, a referendum has been placed on the ballot that will provide gaming in the northern region of the state if passed. Legislators have worked hard to try to come up with a plan that will help Atlantic City as well as the entire state and the gaming expansion up north is believed to be the way. However, according to several studies, the measure does not have the potential to pass as voters are not on board with the plan. So, one lawmaker is trying to prepare an alternative option is the measure is not approved.

Plan B

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo has been working on what he is calling Plan B, a way for slot machines to be added to the racetracks of the state, making way for gaming to come to the area in another manner. The plan would see two bills that he introduced earlier this year be amended. These bills allowed for video lottery terminals to be authorized, which are essential slot machine style games. These games are now allowed at the racetracks in the state, including Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands.

Reportedly, the plan that Caputo has does not require a question to be placed on the ballot. The assemblyman simply has to remove a requirement for a new referendum to his bills. According to Caputo, this is a way to get back in the game in regards to a gambling expansion. The plan of Caputo is anchored to an opinion of 1982 by Irwin Kimmelman, who held the State Attorney General position at that time. At the time, Kimmelman ruled that video lottery terminals did not require an amendment to the state constitution. The constitution currently limits casino gaming to only the Atlantic City area.

What Could Happen

If the Plan B option is successful by Caputo, the measure will reverse a ruling from 1983 by Governor Tom Kean. This ruling was that the state lottery was not allowed to use such gaming machines. The gaming machines would be allowed and would be authorized by the lottery, though the gambling regulators of the state would be overseeing the games.

The horse racing industry of the state would like to be able to provide slot machine gaming at the local racetracks so that the venues can play catch up with venues known as racinos in nearby New York and Pennsylvania. The plan states that proceeds earned from the new games would be divided in order to pay the winner prizes as well as cover the expenses of the state in administering to the machines. 18% of revenues will be placed in a fund that will be created for the horse racing industry which will be covered by the New Jersey Racing Commission.

The horse fund money will see just over 83% going towards track purses as supplements for the Standardbred and thoroughbred racing venues. The remaining cash will be used for breeding and development program needs.

For now, Plan B is just an idea. The lawmaker has to wait and see what happens this November when voters hit the ballot boxes. If the studies are any indication, the referendum will not pass. However, campaigning is being done to show voters what the referendum is all about and how it would work for the state gambling industry as well as for Atlantic City. Only time will tell if voters will pass the referendum and gambling will expand or if Plan B will need to be put in action to give the state another way to bring in much-needed revenues via gambling.