New Jersey Voters Not Interested in Casino Expansion
Voters in the state of New Jersey choose NO when it comes to the casino expansion to the north.
For months now, all eyes have been on the state of New Jersey and if casino gambling would expand to the north of the state. For decades, Atlantic City had been the only area in New Jersey that was allowed to offer casino gambling. A referendum was approved for this year’s ballot that would allow voters to decide if two casinos would be added to the northern region of the state. In the vote yesterday, it was a resounding NO on the ballot from state residents.
The initial results of the vote showed the almost 78% of voters were not in favor of the state referendum. According to the Associated Press, the ballot question actually failed by as many as one and a half million votes.
For years now, the discussion of expanding gaming by way of casinos from Atlantic City have taken place but after 2014, the discussions became more frequent as the city was failing in regards to gaming. The once popular casino resort town was floundering after losing four gaming venues that year. Many felt that allowing casinos to be constructed outside of Atlantic City would be able to help the gambling industry move away from struggling and to get back on its feet.
As states that surround New Jersey begin to offer casino gaming or expand their offerings, the gaming city was only experiencing a continuous downturn. Customers were lost and gambling revenue given up to neighboring states.
As far as the bill was concerned, it was signed into law earlier in the year and had to be approved by voters to move forward. Voters were asked if they were in support of the casino expansion or against. With the deal, operators who already have a license in Atlantic City would have first crack at applying for a license to one of the two new gaming venues. If none of the current operators were interested, other developers would then have the option to bid for a gaming license.
Reason for Failure
Industry insiders felt that it was the provision of the bill as to who would be able to operate that caused the bill to fail. Gambling companies would have spent more money to lobby for the proposal if they have the opportunity to apply for a gaming license instead of waiting to see if existing operators would be vying for the option to operate casinos in the north.
A ton of money was invested in the lobbying process both for and against the proposal for the two new casinos. As much as $24 million was spent on marketing campaigns that promoted the negatives that could be seen if the expansion was allowed. It seems that such campaigning worked as in the last few months before the vote took place, studies showed that voters continued to increase in their displeasure of the proposal.
Opponents of the expansion have argued for months that the construction of new venues would be damaging to the gambling industry of the state, leaving it beyond repair. Opponents felt more closures of casinos in Atlantic City would be imminent. Those opposed also pointed out that important questions involving the expansion were not answered including the how much in tax revenues would be paid as well as the exact locations of the gaming venues.
Despite the negative vote in regards to the casino gambling expansion, those in favor of seeing gaming added to other areas of the state have said they at some point in the future, discussions may be revived on the matter.