With competition for a second Philadelphia casino license now under way, it’s worth heeding Gov. Christie’s wise caution about expanding gambling at the Meadowlands complex in North Jersey.
Christie’s staunch opposition to a Meadowlands casino, reiterated at an Assembly hearing last week, rests mostly on the sound observation that it could undermine the state’s efforts to boost the fortunes of Atlantic City.
The Shore resort has struggled in the face of growing competition from casinos in Pennsylvania and other states. Even the glitzy new $2.4 billion Revel casino has gotten off to a slow start.
With a five-year state plan in place to revitalize the resort in ways that grow it as a destination for more than just gambling, the governor has the right idea in giving AC a chance to succeed.
Christie also seems to be saying the best response to the regional competition isn’t necessarily to build more casinos. By that same logic, another casino in the Philadelphia market might not be best for Harrisburg’s hopes of raising more revenue.
The region’s four casinos constitute a market that some gaming observers believe is close to being saturated.
In addition to vying with each other, SugarHouse, Parx, Harrah’s Philadelphia, and the Valley Forge Casino Resort have to contend with casinos that are little more than an hour’s drive away in Bethlehem and the Poconos.
Mayor Nutter and others are understandably eager to see the jobs that a second casino would bring to the city, despite the likely growth in problem gambling and other social costs.
But a second casino in the region that merely steals customers from local competitors will make as little sense as allowing a Meadowlands gaming franchise to cannibalize Atlantic City’s winnings.