Governor Chris Christie signed into law sweeping legislation to enact his reform plans to revitalize the ailing gaming and tourism industries in Atlantic City, and set the region on a new course for economic growth, job creation and prosperity. Recognizing the significance and importance of Atlantic City’s regional economy to the state as a whole, Governor Christie put forward a comprehensive, bold reform plan in July aimed at turning around the deep and unprecedented challenges facing Atlantic City's gaming and tourism industries.
The bills signed by Governor Christie today, S-11 and S-12, represent critical steps in following through on his commitment to the tens of thousands of New Jersey families whose livelihoods depend on the regional economy, and will set the stage for Atlantic City to once again be a world-class destination resort and an engine of job creation and economic growth. S- 11 authorizes the creation of a tourism district within Atlantic City, with the charge of improving public safety, public health, marketing and infrastructure projects and improvements; S-12 provides for the reform and modernization of New Jersey's casino regulatory structure.
The signing took place at the site of the Revel casino resort, a 53-story, 6.3 million square foot, 3,800 room hotel and casino that, upon completion, will be the biggest such property in Atlantic City. Governor Christie also announced the approval of $260 million in tax-increment financing by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority that will support much needed infrastructure improvements in the South Inlet neighborhood adjacent to the Revel development and pave the way for completion of the $2.8 billion project and thousands of new jobs. The project estimates the creation of 5,500 permanent jobs, 2,600 construction jobs, 1,100 manufacturing jobs, 400 vendor/supplies jobs and 250 professional/consulting jobs. Along with job creation associated with ancillary utility and infrastructure improvement projects, total job creation for the Revel project is estimated at more than 10,000 jobs.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority also approved a new policy requiring as a condition of any tax increment financing package of $50 million or more, including the Revel financing approved today, that the state receive success reimbursement payments from the project commensurate with the extent of state financial participation.
S-11 implements several critical elements of Governor Christie’s revitalization plan for Atlantic City. The bill authorizes the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to establish a tourism district within Atlantic City. Within the territorial limits of the tourism district, CRDA will be authorized to establish land use regulations, implement a tourism district master plan, promote public health and safety initiatives, advance commercial development, undertake redevelopment projects and institute infrastructure improvements. The bill also provides for the merger of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority into CRDA. CRDA will also enter into a public-private partnership with a not-for-profit consisting of a majority of New Jersey casino licensees, through which they will commit funds totaling $30 million annually for the development and implementation of a marketing program aimed at promoting Atlantic City. In October, the Casino Association of New Jersey announced the formation of such a nonprofit and the commitment of the casino industry to contribute at least $30 million annually to promote Atlantic City and support the tourism district.
S-11 directs the Attorney General and Superintendent of State Police, in consultation with the Mayor of Atlantic City and municipal law enforcement officials, to develop a public safety plan for Atlantic City to be implemented by a District Commander appointed by the Superintendent. The plan will include the development of law enforcement best practices, the procurement and deployment of new technology and equipment, and the development and implementation of a coordinated law enforcement strategy to address public safety concerns both inside and outside of the tourism district.
S-12 reforms the state’s regulatory structure for casinos by modernizing, streamlining, and eliminating duplication in the regulatory statutes, many of which were authored more than 30 years ago. Under the bill, the Casino Control Commission (CCC) is assigned the lead role in initial casino licensing matters as well as in adjudicating regulatory disputes. The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is charged with focusing on the day-to-day regulation of all casino operations. These changes move away from the duplicative and overlapping investigative, oversight, and regulatory functions previously held by the twobodies and creates a more well-defined system of regulatory authority by the entities.
In addition, S-12 accounts for the significant technological advancements that have taken place since the inception of the regulatory statue by eliminating the current requirement that the Casino Control Commission be continuously present, through inspectors and agents, at all times during the operation of a casino. The bill provides for registration as opposed to licensure of certain casino-related employees and removes certain periodic license renewal requirements. The bill would, however, add a requirement for designated information to be provided periodically by licensees to the CCC and DGE in order to verify ongoing compliance with all legal requirements.
Finally, the bill makes various other changes to state law to remove impediments to efficient and productive casino operations and provide additional flexibility in their operation.