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Bally's Casino in Atlantic City in 2011. (Photo: Shinya Suzuki.)

AG won’t rule out independent expenditures by casinos

Recent federal court ruling could impact ability for casinos to play in N.J. campaigns

By David Wildstein, June 24 2021 3:31 pm

Since gambling in Atlantic City was legalized 45 years ago, casinos and their top executives have been banned from spending money to influence state elections.

That could change after U.S. District Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti ruled on Monday that regulated industries like banks, insurance and utility companies can make independent expenditures in gubernatorial and legislative campaigns.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office is not ready to say if casinos are included in the list of businesses that had previously been viewed as unable to spend money to influence state elections.

“The Division of Gaming Enforcement is reviewing the terms of Judge Martinotti’s decision for its potential effects on the casino industry,” said Leland Moore, a spokesman for the attorney general.  “We decline any further request for comment.”

Martinotti said that regulated industries could make independent expenditures but stopped short of striking a 1911 law that barred them from making direct campaign contributions.

The New Jersey Bankers Association launched the legal challenge, claiming the prohibition infringed on their First Amendment rights.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal argued the law did not bar the regulated industries from making independent expenditures.

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