The New Jersey State Assembly will convene a hearing next week to examine the question of adding a casino to the Meadowlands Racetrack in the northern part of the state. The panel will be led by Hoboken Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, chairman of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, whose committee will meet July 19 at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford.

“We need to at least discuss the potential for casino-style gaming in North Jersey and its potential to create jobs and economic growth and position New Jersey’s gaming industry to better compete against other states,” said Ramos, in a statement. “Expanding gaming options to the Meadowlands could strengthen New Jersey against that competition that has already lured customers away. Any option to bring additional revenue and create jobs deserves careful consideration, and this is where the discussion starts.”

There is no bill pending on the matter, but Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, is sponsoring legislation that would ask voters whether or amend the state Constitution to allow casinos to operate in Bergen County.

Atlantic City interests have long opposed any expansion of casino gaming elsewhere in the state of New Jersey. The combination of massive revenue declines in Atlantic City and new projects such as Sands Bethlehem and Empire City in the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and New York that draw in part from north Jersey has given fresh ammunition to those who would like to bring casino gaming to the Meadowlands.