It's what just about everyone in the Atlantic City region has been fearful about for years: the day casinos would be allowed in other parts of the state. And now it appears voters in New Jersey will decide the fate of casino expansion next year.

Under a deal announced Friday by Senate President Steve Sweeney, who's home district is in South Jersey, New Jersey voters will get to vote in November, 2016, on allowing two casinos in North Jersey. The referendum would be to allow two new casinos in separate counties in North Jersey, but not give specific locations (the bill says the new casinos would have to be at least 75 miles from Atlantic City). Under the proposed plan, tax money from the new gaming halls would be sent to Atlantic City to help off-set the anticipated loss of revenue, as well as other avenues.

Quickly after Sweeney's announcement, South Jersey politicians lined-up to oppose the plan. Via the Associated Press, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo called the move "another punch in the gut to Atlantic City's road to recovery. To think that the answer to an already overly saturated gaming market is saturating it even more is madness."

Friday afternoon, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian released a lengthy statement, saying in part:

As Mayor of Atlantic City, I am 100% against expanding casino gambling outside of Atlantic City. I believe that expanding gambling outside of Atlantic City is not only devastating for Atlantic City, but it will be devastating for every single resident of New Jersey. And here’s why…the market is already over saturated with too many casinos. There are currently 19 casinos surrounding New Jersey and four more proposed. There is simply no more room for more casinos.

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