New Jersey Lawmakers Advise New York

By John Celock

New Jersey senators want New York officials not to grant a casino near the border.

The New Jersey state Senate voted unanimously Monday to pass a resolution asking New York not to approve a casino for Sterling Forest State Park in Tuxedo. The proposed casino is one of 17 casino proposals in the state for the four gaming licenses the state will award.

“The one mentioned in this resolution is not in the best interest of northern New Jersey which uses clean drinking water from this area,” Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) told his colleagues.

Sarlo, who represents Bergen County, told the Senate that while he understands it is within New York State’s right to allow casinos anywhere in the state, environmental concerns govern opposition to the Sterling Forest site. He said the construction of a casino in the park could lead to problems with the water supply for residents in both states.

“I hope the New York Legislature would consider alterative proposals,” Sarlo said.

The Sterling Forest proposal would add a casino the park, which already hosts a ski facility and other entertainment venues. There has been local opposition to the proposed casino, noting environmental concerns and the loss of undeveloped park space.

New York state gaming regulators are currently sifting through the proposed casinos, looking to award the four licenses that are granted under a new amendment in the state constitution. Currently, all of New York State’s casinos sit on Native American land, due to a previous ban on casinos in the Empire State. This includes former Gov. George Pataki (R) granting the Seneca Nation the convention center in Niagara Falls in order to open a casino in 2003.

Gaming expansion has been a hot topic in northern New Jersey, as lawmakers study plans to expand gaming to the Meadowlands complex in Bergen County. The proposed expansion has been greeted with hostility from casinos currently operating in Atlantic City, which has been struggling through recent downturns and casino closures.