Plans Unveiled For Casino At The Meadowlands

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Hard Rock International unveiled its plan Wednesday to open a billion-dollar casino at the Meadowlands as soon as next summer.

The 650,000 square-foot property “will compete with anything in the world,” Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen said at a press conference at the Meadowlands Wednesday, theAsbury Park Press reported.

Hard Rock’s trademark giant guitar will be “a beacon in the night” across the Hudson River for New York City residents to come and experience 200 gambling tables and 5,000 slot machines, he said.

Hard Rock International and Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment have said a casino at the Meadowlands could bring in as much as $400 million in state tax revenue and create up to 10,000 jobs.

State legislators have backed the idea of building casinos in Bergen, Hudson, and Essex counties. State representatives from those three counties introduced legislation to allow casinos to be built in those three counties.

“There is no reason why we can’t come up with a statewide gambling plan that brings jobs and economic growth to Bergen, Essex, and Hudson counties while also supporting Atlantic City recovery and revitalization efforts,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, who serves on the Assembly Tourism, Gaming, and The Arts Committee and co-sponsored the legislation.

Ralph Caputo, another of the legislation’s sponsors, said state officials would have to vote on the bill by Aug. 3.

Meadowlands operator Jeff Gural said that the proposed casino, with its 55-percent tax rate, could not only complete with gambling operations in nearby New York and Pennsylvania, it could help support struggling casinos in Atlantic City, something Governor Christie supports.

During his weekly radio show on New Jersey 101.5 last week, Christie said building a North Jersey casino would be the “right thing to do,” but only if Atlantic City gets a share of the tax revenue.

Four of the 12 casinos in Atlantic City closed last year and the state’s gambling revenues have decreased $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.74 billion last year.