Bill would permit two new casinos to open with only 200 rooms and reduced casino space requirements

A proposal to allow two smaller casinos to be licensed in Atlantic City is advancing through the state Legislature.

A bill designed to attract investment in the troubled oceanfront market by allowing new casinos to skirt the longstanding requirements of 500 hotel rooms and a minimum of 60,000 square feet was approved Monday by the Assembly’s Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, according to a report in The Press of Atlantic City.

If it becomes law, the bill will permit two new so-called “boutique” casinos to open with only 200 rooms and initially from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of total space. The Senate approved similar legislation in late September.

Developers would have to pay $2 million to be licensed and deposit 5 percent of gross revenues into a special fund as an incentive to expand. If they decide not to after five years, they would pay an additional 5 percent, and the money could be used elsewhere in the city.

The bill has drawn interest from at least one group of investors interested in applying for a license to build a Hard Rock-branded casino.