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Battle Brewing Over Casino Expansion In New Jersey

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- With competition in New York and Pennsylvania chewing into New Jersey's gambling revenue, state lawmakers are considering bringing casinos to Bergen County.

But the proposal is also facing stiff opposition from the casino capital of the East Coast, Atlantic City, CBS 2's Christine Sloan reported.

A state Assembly committee has advanced a bill that would create a commission to study expanding casino gambling up north.

But Republicans and legislators from southern New Jersey are fighting the legislation, fearing casinos in Bergen County could destroy Atlantic City, which has lost more than $2 billion in casino revenue since 2006. They also argue that a five-year plan to promote the shore destination, supported by Gov. Chris Christie, should be given a chance, especially now that a major airline, United, has come to Atlantic City International Airport.

"Hopefully, we're going to see international flights come in on a weekly basis," said Assemblyman John Amodeo (R-Northfield).

"To even consider visiting moving gambling casinos out of Atlantic City before the five-year timeline, as long as I am breathing, I am not going to support that," he added.

But Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville), who sponsored the bill, said the state is hemorrhaging money.

"You could look at those number in New York. They're astronomical," he said. "That money is coming out of the state of New Jersey."

Richard Vartan, an East Rutheford resident, said it isn't surprising that Atlantic City officials are trying to protect their territory.

"When the southern part of New Jersey controls everything, when they have their pot of gold, they certainly don't want to share their pot of gold with anyone else," he said.

Meanwhile, R.J. Scheidewig, of Carlstadt, said he doesn't support bringing casinos to Bergen County.

"I just don't think we have the room for it up here," he said. "And plus with casinos comes other things."

The bill still has to be voted on by the Assembly and Senate. If passed, the study could take up to five months. Then, more legislation would have to be passed to create the casinos.

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