(Reuters) - New Jersey voters will decide whether to expand gambling beyond Atlantic City, the state's distressed casino hub, after the state legislature on Monday approved a ballot measure for November's election.
The state constitutional amendment calls for laws that would allow the creation of two new casinos at undecided locations in Northern New Jersey, which is close to New York City.
Currently, casino gambling is legal in the state only in Atlantic City, which had four of its 12 casinos close in 2014 because of increased competition from neighboring states.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian has said that expanding gaming will further doom his city's dwindling hold on casinos in the region and could spark further casino closures there.
But the Democrats who control both houses of the state legislature said expansion was needed.
"For a state sorely in need of new revenues for vital needs such as programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, this is a win-win," said Gary Schaer, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, in a statement. "This proposal would help bring a brighter economic future for our state."
The measure also calls for some of the revenue from any new casinos to go back to Atlantic City.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Bernard Orr)