The failure of New Jersey lawmakers to reach a decision on the state budget is liable to lead to the closure of casinos throughout the state.
New Jersey lawmakers have until June 30 to decide on the state budget. If they fail to do so, a government shutdown will begin on the July 1. Casinos in the state would then be able to remain open for only seven days before having to close down completely until the government is back in business. State Senator Chris Brown is now asking Governor Phil Murphy to sign an executive order that would allow the casinos and racetracks of the state to remain open if a prolonged state shutdown were to take place.
Current shutdown law
Based on the laws of New Jersey, casinos and racetracks must close if a government shutdown lasts more than seven days. This type of shutdown last took place in 2006, and casinos were closed for several days. If Governor Murphy signs an executive order to designate the employees of the gaming facilities as essential employees, then the venues will not be subject to closure.
If an executive order is not signed by the governor, Senator Brown along with Senators Jim Beach and Jeff Van Drew will work on legislation to help the gaming venues remain open. On the issue, Brown said: “The 2006 shutdown of the casinos during the July 4 weekend was devastating. It’s unbelievable to me that as our gaming industry is turning the corner and improving our local economy by putting families back to work, Trenton would force the casinos to shut their doors during the busiest time of the year.”
Governor Murphy has the ability to decide what is considered essential and non-essential services for the state. Essential services remain open during a government shutdown while non-essential ones close down. If the government shutdown takes place, such areas as state-run parks, forests, camping grounds, beaches, historic sites, and recreation areas close down. The casinos and race tracks have a short window in which they can remain open, but once the seven-day time frame is passed, the casinos must close as well.
Last summer, then Governor Chris Christie shut down such services as the beaches, yet was pictured on the beach during the shutdown. This did not go over well with residents and will most likely play heavily into the decision-making of Governor Murphy. With July 4 coming up, the state will be hit hard financially if the government shutdown results in the beaches, parks, casinos, and other services shutting down for an extended time frame.
New gaming venues affected
Two new casinos are set to open on June 28: the Hard Rock Casino Atlantic City and the Ocean Resort Casino. If the shutdown were to occur, the two properties would only be open less than two weeks before being forced to shut down until the government is back in business. This could hurt the two venues as they have invested a considerable sum in the former gaming venues in order to bring some life back to Atlantic City.
Much anticipation has surrounded the opening of both casinos, and a shutdown will only disrupt potential earnings that the venues could see if they were allowed to remain open without the threat of a shutdown. The hope is that the governor will sign the executive order, and if not, hopefully, lawmakers will be able to create legislation that will see the gaming venues allowed to stay open despite the government shutdown.