N.J. voters reject North Jersey casinos, slim margin for dedicating gas tax

(Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

(Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

New Jersey voters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have expanded casino gambling beyond Atlantic City and appear to have approved dedicating all money from the state gas tax to transportation projects.

Assemblyman Chris Brown of Atlantic County says the failure of the gambling referendum is a victory for residents. He says the casino market is oversaturated and building two new ones in the northern part of the state would take more customers away from Atlantic City.

“Trying to court a handful of casino advocates would have wound up costing Atlantic City and Atlantic County up to 30,000 jobs,” he said.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo was the primary sponsor of the amendment. He says the $14 million spent on an advertising campaign by opponents may have influenced the outcome.

“I don’t think there really was a yes campaign of any significance. The campaign was really run on the no side and that came from basically the New York Malaysian group. They’re the ones that are trying to keep the business where it is instead of having the people of New Jersey benefit from it,” he said.

Caputo says supporters might try to get it on the ballot again in the future.

“They say two years, maybe three, but the idea is I believe if there’s a material change on the amendment, it could be earlier.”

Caputo believes casinos in the northern part New Jersey would attract gamblers and revenue now going to casinos in neighboring states.

The margin for the question about dedicating the gas tax was much closer, with voters approving by a few percentage points a constitutional dedication of revenues from the newly-raised tax.  Just this month, it went up 23 cents per gallon.

There was a last-minute effort to defeat the ballot question as a way to protest the higher gas tax, but it seems to have fallen short.

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