State and local governments in New Jersey, not Atlantic City casinos, are responsible for making the gaming industry deliver on its promises, according to the author of the New Jersey Casino Control Act.
“State and city officials never figured it out,” said Steven Perskie, who wrote the Casino Control Act in 1976 when he was a 31-year-old New Jersey assemblyman.
On Thursday, Perskie joined a group of four other New Jersey gaming officials to discuss the impact of the Casino Control Act 45 years after New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne signed the bill into law on June 2, 1977.
Less than one year later, Resorts International became the first casino to open in Atlantic City.
Instead of working together to develop a vision for the gaming industry’s future in New Jersey, government officials in the state capital of Trenton and in Atlantic City sought to shift the burden to each other for decades.
But after the state government took over the management of Atlantic City in 2016, a partnership developed between local and state officials and the gaming industry has benefited.
“I don’t think anyone thinks Atlantic City would be better off today without the casino industry,” Perskie said during Thursday’s one-hour and 45 minute discussion at Stockton University, which is about 17 miles northwest of Atlantic City.
Unlike Nevada, which legalized gambling in 1931, casinos in New Jersey have never been infiltrated by organized crime, said Mark Giannantonio, CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.
Giannantonio and other panelists said they are bullish on Atlantic City’s future partly because of New Jersey’s high regulatory standards.
With its recent success in internet gaming and sports betting, Atlantic City’s gaming industry is hoping to be at the forefront of the expansion of esports. The two most aggressive states so far in esports are Nevada and New Jersey.
David Rebuck, who has been director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement since May 2011, described esports as “a nascent market.” Esports have not taken off yet, Rebuck said, because states are focused on sports betting.
During the question-and-answer session at the end of the webinar, advocates of legislation to ban smoking in Atlantic City casinos pressed panelists to support their efforts.
Giannantonio said he understood their concerns but a smoking ban would result in the loss of jobs in a struggling economy.