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Budgets and Betting. Where is New Jersey Spending its Money?

As sometimes independent units, states in the US tend to have wildly different ways of earning and spending their money. Stereotypes like Texan oil and Nebraskan agriculture might feel dated, but they’re nevertheless a useful way of demonstrating just how disparate places in the United States can be. Economically, being united by a language and culture means very little in a country defined by its many different biomes – desert, mountains, and tundra included.

Unprecedented

Singling out New Jersey (of all places) might seem like an odd thing to do, but the state set several records in 2021 that mark it out as a special case from an economic perspective. For one, the budget signed for use after July 1, 2022, is the largest New Jersey has ever seen and will leave the state with $10bn more than it actually needs. However, the North Jersey website notes that its enormous budget might be more sword than salvation, as the state is already in large amounts of debt. 

In September 2021, New Jersey became the first state in the US to earn $1bn in revenue from sports wagering. In doing so, it beat the record it set previously, back in December 2020. Worldwide, this might not seem like anything too special, but the United States has been slow to enfold sports betting into its societal fabric, so records such as these are unprecedented in the country, let alone the state.

A related industry, casino, also has a stronghold in New Jersey. The state has earned $988.7m in online casino revenue in 2021 to date (another record), a development that has resulted in increased competition in the space. Many of these gaming sites, such as BetMGM and Hard Rock Casino, attract players with free spins to play real money games online. It might be a fairly straightforward offer, but it can help newcomers acclimate to a new form of entertainment. 

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NJ Transit

In more conventional interests, New Jersey’s budget will directly benefit plenty of people within the state. Pensions, aid for college tuition, and retiree support will all see an uptick in funding during 2022, while tax credits related to homeownership and those imposed upon millionaires will both increase. For people jaded by the perceived gap between public needs and officials’ collective interests, New Jersey’s approach to the future seems remarkable, if not a little belated.

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Of course, there’s a downside. Despite the massive budget overspill, help for the unemployed is underrepresented in the budget, as NJ Transit continues to siphon all sorts of funds for infrastructure improvements. Particular concern has been directed towards the Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River, which was damaged by Hurricane Sandy and could incur costs of $100m a day if it had to close.

While mistakes have certainly been made in drawing up New Jersey’s budget for 2022, there’s still a sense of optimism in the local area, especially as the Garden State continues to reap rewards from new industries.

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