I still grapple with the question, “Should casino employees be able to stand for political office?”
The state constitution was amended about thirty years ago. That amendment was the provision for legalizing gambling in Atlantic City. There was a long and contentious effort to legalize gambling in Atlantic City. Not only was gambling legalize through the constitutional amendment, but a monopoly was legalized. Only Atlantic City can have gambling in the state of New Jersey.
There has to be certain criteria met before a casino license will be granted. There is a regulation to build a certain number of hotel rooms to qualify as a legal casino. This requirement has prevented bar, restaurant, and other establishments from enjoying slot machine or table game revenues.
There is always a delicate balance between federal and state powers. There is also a balance of interests and rights when government “legalizes” a previously “illegal” activity. I still cannot help scoffing at those who still consider the many card games taking place in pre-casino Atlantic City clubs to be wrong, but the modern day poker rooms are ok.
(Photo credit – http://www.peoplejam.com/files/u151/gambling.gif)
It was wrong for guys to run the numbers, but ok for state government to reap profits from a lottery.
Back to the point, casino employees do forfeit their right to stand for elected office by accepting employment in casino gaming. I am beginning to share the opinion that casino employees should enjoy the same rights as other citizens to participate politically. One person who has swayed my opinion is Roger Gros. He blogs:
By continuing to prohibit casino employees and executives from running for the office of mayor (limiting their service to City Council positions), the bill is yet another slap in the face to people who have been given the most stringent oversight by the state government when they are granted casino licenses. To prevent them from running for mayor (or governor or state legislator, for that matter), the state is telling casino employees that they are not trustworthy enough to fill those positions! Does the state prohibit New Brunswick executives with drug companies located there from running for governor? Are tourism employees prevented from holding the mayor’s office in Cape May? NO! There is no difference, as a one-industry towns, between Atlantic City and those two examples.
One little point prevents me from enthusiastically joining Mr. Gros’s cause. The casino gaming legislation has granted Atlantic City casino operators a legalized monopoly and hindered the rights of other New Jerseyans. The constitution not only discriminates against casino employees, but also owners of smaller establishments, and developers in other towns. One may argue that that is the way the people of New Jersey wanted it, i.e. contained to large facilities in one town. But I say that if the people of New Jersey wanted to structure casino gaming so as to deny liberty and justice for all, so be it.
Enough of the spoonfuls of liberty. Either have the laws reflect equally for all, or enjoy your legalized monopoly and stop complaining.