N.J. lawmaker betting on plan to help Atlantic City, pension fund

A New Jersey lawmaker is proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow video slot machine wagering at New Jersey’s four horse racing tracks. 

 The amendment calls for a consortium of Atlantic City casinos to run the slot operations at the tracks, said Sen. Joe Pennachio, R-Morris.

The profits from that wagering would be divided — 50 percent to the state, 40 percent to the consortium, and 10 percent for infrastructure and entertainment enhancements in Atlantic City.

“The 50 percent that the state takes would then be given to the state pension system directly, constitutionally dedicated. That way we can try to [address] that problem,” he said. “So what we’re doing is basically taking two major issues that the state is facing, and we’re trying to help them both.”

The soonest the amendment could be on the ballot would be November next year. That’s when Gov. Chris Christie’s five-year plan to confine casino gaming to Atlantic City nears an end.

Pennachio, who said he has not talked with the governor about his proposal, said he hopes for bipartisan support for the plan he says could bring hundreds of millions to state coffers.

“You’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars this will be able to generate that can go directly into the pension system. I know that the Democrats have called for a millionaire’s tax,” he said. “That millionaire’s tax at the very most may generate a half a billion dollars, but worse than that it’s going to stifle economic growth in this state.”

The tracks are in East Rutherford, Oceanport, Freehold and Mays Landing.

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