Will New Jersey Casinos Stay Open During State Shutdown?

by Kyle Miller

Officials of New Jersey are trying to make sure casinos in Atlantic City stay open despite government shutdown.

The state of New Jersey may see additional gaming issues if the casinos of Atlantic City are forced to shut down this week. A law that was passed in 2008 during the last government shut down allowed for casinos in Atlantic City to stay open for seven days after a government shutdown takes place. This was set up in the hopes that if another shutdown occurred, the casinos could still operate and the problems solved before money was lost. However, a recent impasse that took place last week and continuing into yesterday could see the casinos closed which would lead to even more problems in Atlantic City.

What’s Going On?

Beginning last week, an impasse took place within the state government and lawmakers as well as regulators have been scrambling to try to keep the casinos open in Atlantic City. The gaming venues are just now beginning to gain momentum after three years of low earnings and five casinos shutting down in the process.

Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck commented on the issue that if the casinos have to close, it will be tough on the venues. The market is very sensitive to external forces according to Rebuck and a nice uptick has been seen. Everything that has been gained within the last year during a short period of time could be lost with a shut down.

The casino market of Atlantic City recently saw their first increase in revenues in more than 10 years in 2016 and casinos have been able to see a profit due to less competition locally. Last week, just hours before the shutdown began, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo decided to introduce a measure that would let the casinos stay open even if the shutdown took place.

Legal options are currently being examined in order to find a way for the casinos to stay open, from a legal standpoint. Potential options could include an executive order that will allow the casino to stay open or a solution within legislation that would change the law to reach the same conclusion. However, all of this would need to see a state budget agreed upon and the shutdown to come to an end.

Christie Already Causing Drama

Chris ChristieDue to the budget standoff with state legislature, a partial government shutdown took place. Governor Chris Christie decided to shut down all the beaches and parks and this was not the best time as this past weekend is 4th of July celebrations. Everyone in New Jersey was really upset. Then, the Governor decides to go on the beach during the shutdown with his family as he was staying at the home located on Island Beach State Park.

After receiving much criticism on the matter, of which he says he doesn’t care, Christie decided to sign a budget deal early Tuesday morning. This would end the three day government shutdown and state run services would be back in business.

On Monday, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney revealed the deal during a press conference and showed the $34.7 billion budget that includes spending priorities and agreements for changes to the state health insurer.

So, the casinos will be able to stay open for now which is sure to help the industry as it continues to gain ground, fighting back after a long drought of low earnings and traffic. It will be interesting to see if the government decides to make any changes in legislation to avoid this issue in the future or if this will be a problem that might be faced again if another government shutdown were to take place.