From the Star Ledger:
The leader of the state Assembly said Thursday that Steve Wynn, the famed casino mogul who owned one of the first gambling halls in Atlantic City before leaving town decades ago, has expressed interest in returning to the state — as the owner of one of the first casinos in north Jersey.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) said attracting entrepreneurs like Wynn is one of the reasons he continues to stick by his plan to ask voters to amend the state constitution to expand casino gambling to the northern part of the state, rather than support a rival bill by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).
“I have talked to many individuals that have expressed interest in coming into New Jersey,” Prieto said. “Mr. Wynn is one of those individuals that has shown interest in different sites in the area.”
“It’s just another excuse,” the Senate president said. “The ball keeps moving.”
“Steve Wynn left New Jersey,” he added. “He said a lot of bad things and he walked away.”
Top state lawmakers agree that casinos in north Jersey would bring thousands of new jobs and millions in new revenue to the state. They also say it help New Jersey stay afloat in the competitive northeastern gaming market now that Atlantic City — the only place in the state currently allowed to offer gambling — has suffered through years of financial struggles.
Both Prieto and Sweeney have introduced plans to place a question on November’s ballot asking voters to approve two new casinos in north Jersey. But for the question to make it to the ballot, the Senate and Assembly need to compromise on a single plan, and Prieto and Sweeney remain deadlocked.
One of their key disagreements is over who should be allowed to operate the new casinos. Sweeney’s resolution requires that each of the new casinos must be owned at least in part by an operator in Atlantic City, which has seen four casinos close and thousands of jobs lost amid increasing competition in neighboring state over the last few years.
Prieto’s measure requires that for only one of the casinos. The second would be open to outside operators.
South Jersey lawmakers have argued that any north Jersey casino would cripple Atlantic City. And Sweeney said by requiring an Atlantic City operator to run one of the new casinos, it would at least allow cross-promotion that could boost the struggling resort and keep it from fading.