Developer Pitches $4.6B Casino Just South of NYC

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

New Jersey lawmakers say a venture capitalist wants to build a $4.6 billion casino in Jersey City, known as New York City’s sixth borough, due to its proximity just south of the Big Apple. The move would be possible only if the state would make a major policy change and allow casinos outside of Atlantic City.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who said he was briefed on the plan about a month ago, says the plan calls for a more-than-90-story hotel and residential tower, the world’s largest Ferris wheel and a car-racing stadium that could seat more than 100,000 fans.

For years, Lesniak has been calling to allow casinos outside of Atlantic City and then use part of the revenue to boost that resort city, which has been struggling for years largely because of increased competition in nearby states. One casino closed in January and two others have warned that they could, too.

It would take a state constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling outside of Atlantic City. Lesniak would like to see lawmakers take quick action to put it to a public vote on this November’s ballot, but a public vote is unlikely until at least next year.

Since the prospective developer began briefing politicians, Gov. Chris Christie and state Senate President Steve Sweeney have both talked about the possibility of allowing casinos elsewhere.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, chairman of the tourism and gaming committee, noted that the plans are preliminary.

He said the tax rate on any new casino’s revenues should be at least 50 percent — far higher than the 8 percent Atlantic City casinos pay. And he said that unlike some of Atlantic City’s casinos, there would be no tax incentives to help fund construction.