BELLEVILLE - A New Jersey assemblyman is already looking for ways around next month's expected defeat of a ballot question that would bring casinos to northern New Jersey.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo tells News 12 New Jersey he'll amend legislation to let the state add slots to racetracks including the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park.
"I think it's a way around the referendum and I think it's a great way to start the gaming business up again, because it's been so deteriorated,” Caputo says.
His proposal relies on a 1982 opinion from the state Attorney General's Office that adding so-called video lottery terminals to tracks would not violate the ban on casinos outside Atlantic City. His legislation would seek to overturn a rule approved by then-Gov. Tom Kean in 1983 banning the lottery from using those games.
“We've lost our customer base to outside destinations,” Caputo says. “What we're trying to do is bring that business back."
Caputo says 18 percent of the machines' take would go to the horse racing industry to help it compete with slot-subsidized tracks in Pennsylvania and New York.
The assemblyman says adding the machines to the racetracks would also create jobs, and solve other financial problems New Jersey is facing.
“Other people are taking our resources. Atlantic City has lost $2.7 million of taxable revenue,” he says. “It went to senior programs, disabled, tax relief, so without that revenue we can't provide those services in same way we did."
Caputo says he will wait to see how the expansion vote goes on Election Day before moving forward with this plan.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.