With no deal in sight, the latest casualties to the New Jersey legislature's budget issues are the Atlantic City casinos. All 12 casinos were forced to close their doors starting today until the government passes a budget for the year.
State inspectors at the casinos are part of the non-essential government services and workers who won't be working until a new budget is passed. Because casinos can't legally operate without the state inspectors, they too were ordered to shut down.
Casino operators took the issue to court to have state casino inspectors changed to essential personnel but were denied by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The problem began when the state legislature missed its constitutional deadline of July 1 to pass a budget for the year. The legislature and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine are at odds about a 1% sales tax increase the governor has proposed to cover a $4.5 billion dollar budget deficit in his spending plan.
The legislature has been working to come up with other options and a different budget plan that would satisfy everyone with no luck. Without a spending plan, Corzine ordered state offices shut down Saturday and all non-essential government operations closed. Those essential employees who are still working are working without pay.
Up to 15,000 casino employees are out of work because of the closure, and that number could grow if the closure lasts through the weekend. People can still access hotel and casinos and restaurants at establishments, but the gaming floors are roped and guarded.
More information about the casino closing can be read at "Atlantic City casinos may close Wednesday."