From the Star Ledger:
I was driving across the country a few years ago when I decided to get off the Interstate and try some local roads through Iowa.
This brought me through the town of Waterloo, coincidentally enough the birthplace of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Guadagno is now running for governor based on her accomplishments during her seven years as lieutenant governor. The chief – and perhaps only – such accomplishment is her position as head of the Red Tape Review Commission, a nine-member panel that set for itself the task of making it easier to run a business in New Jersey.
Let us consider how the state ranks compared to other states in red tape as it concerns the casino industry.
As I was reaching the western end of Iowa, I saw that if I went north a few miles I’d be in South Dakota. I’d never been there before so it seemed worth the trip.
It was, if only for what I saw when I pulled up to pump some gas.
When I went inside to pay, I found myself in a casino.
Here’s what I saw: slot machines, card games and booze.
Here’s what I didn’t see: A mandatory parking fee, lots of state employees standing around doing nothing and a massive hotel full of vacant rooms.
There’s a lesson in that, but I fear it is lost on Guadagno and the rest of the people who run New Jersey.
In 1976 we made history by becoming only the second state after Nevada to legalize casino gambling.
Over the ensuing years we again made history – by becoming the only state to ever screw up casino gambling.
What happened last week with the former Revel Casino represented just the latest effort by the state to strangle an industry that most people thought could not be killed.
Then last week the billionaire who bought this white elephant at a bargain-basement price, businessman Glenn Straub, saw his effort to reopen it stalled by the sort of red tape that the woman from Waterloo pledged to eliminate.
Straub told the Casino Control Commission that he wants to open some of the non-gambling sections of the building by Presidents’ Day and then contract the casino and other sections to a firm experienced in running casinos.
No dice, said the commission. Straub would still have to go through the miles of red tape needed to get that license. That’s the law.
It may well be, but that law has been an abject failure. The Casino Control Act was adopted at a time when the only other state to have legal gambling was Nevada. Casino operators would put up with anything to open in Jersey.