DiVincenzo and Baraka team up to push for casino in Newark

By Matt Friedman | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on June 04, 2015

TRENTON — Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo have long been political rivals. But the two agree on this much: Newark should have a casino.

DiVincenzo and Baraka plan a press conference to promote "Essex County and Newark as the ideal location for a casino," according to a letter DiVincenzo and Baraka sent to supporters Wednesday inviting them to attend that was obtained by NJ Advance Media. The press has not been officially notified of the event yet.

The June 10 press conference will take place at Newark City Hall.

"As elected leaders, it is our responsibility to promote projects that stimulate economic development, job creation and quality of life. Essex County and Newark are positioned perfectly as the premier location for a casino, which would greatly benefit local tourism, employment opportunities and business growth," read the letter.

State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) included Essex County as one of three counties that would be allowed to open a new casino in a proposed constitutional amendment he introduced Monday.

Currently, casinos are only allowed in Atlantic City. Changing that rule would require voters to approve a constitutional amendment.

To get on the ballot this year, the Legislature must pass it with three-fifths majorities by Aug. 3. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has been hesitant to post it for a vote this year.

Meadowlands Racetrack Operator Jeff Gural and Hard Rock International on Wednesday held a press conference to promote a casino they hope to open at the track as early as next year. Sneaker mogul Paul Fireman has been promoting plans for a mega casino and hotel complex in Jersey City.

And lawmakers and other elected officials from around the state — including as far south as Ocean County — have said their regions should be considered for casinos as well.

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