N.J. invests $261M in stalled casino project

Atlantic City will be getting its first new casino since 2003.

After signing legislation to create an Atlantic City Tourism District, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday more than a billion dollars in private financing for the half-completed Revel casino project is being put in place.

Christie said work will resume by the end of next week and the Revel will open in June 2012.

In return for $261 million in state funds to complete infrastructure work, Christie said New Jersey will get 20 percent of the new casino’s profits.

“There’s debt that has to be paid off and other things. So I’m not saying this is going to be a short term,” said Christie. “It’s going to be a long-term gain for the state and the people of New Jersey the same way that $261 million is a long-term investment in the infrastructure in this place.”

But Deborah Howlett, president of the liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, said it’s a gamble with state money that could be better spent on schools.

“This is an investment in a new luxury casino in Atlantic City at a time when the state doesn’t have the resources to invest in it children, in public education, or in preschool,” said Howlett. “We think there needs to be a better balance in the state’s priorities.”

Meanwhile, news that work will soon resume on the stalled Revel casino was welcomed by Atlantic City’s business community.

James Kehoe, the business manager of Local 322 of the plumbers and pipe fitters union, said completing the half-finished Revel project will create jobs for construction workers.

“This puts about 3,000 building trades people to work during the next couple months. It’s a game-changer. Some guys have been out of work maybe a year,” said Kehoe. “Fifty percent of the building trades are out of work down here.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney says the workers will also spend money in Atlantic City, helping to boost the local economy.

And David Cordish, president of the company that developed the retail shopping area known as The Walk, calls the Revel the signature project in Atlantic City. He says it will have a spinoff effect on other businesses in the city.

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