Supporters of New Jersey Casino Expansion Stop Campaign

by Jim Hall

Two big supporters of a casino expansion into northern New Jersey has decided to suspend a campaign yesterday as the public view of the expansion gains negativity.

For months now, all eyes have been on the state of New Jersey and an expansion of gaming into the northern region of the state. Legislators were able to see a referendum added to the ballot for this November to allow residents to vote on if two casinos should be added to this area of the state. The only area in which gaming has been allowed is in Atlantic City, an area that has struggled for some time now.

Showing Support

Our Turn NJSeveral groups are in support of the measure as well as individuals who are involved in the gambling industry of the state. To show their support of the referendum, operator of The Meadowlands Racetrack, Jeff Gural, and former executive of Reebok, Paul Fireman, launched a campaign titled OUR Turn NJ. This campaign was launched a month ago to push for approval of the referendum.

Both individuals have proposed casinos for the northern portion of the state and have now decided to suspend their campaign. The stoppage of efforts comes after a shift was seen in regards to the public’s stance of the proposal. Polls and studies have shown that the public is shying away from the extension and are not currently ready to vote yes for the measure.

Gural has plans to create a new grandstand for the Meadowlands while Fireman would like to see a casino with a multi-billion dollar price tag created right beside the Liberty National Golf Course which he owns.

Negative Information Obtained with Poll

Both men commissioned a poll to find out the status of voters in New Jersey. The poll found that 37% of residents in New Jersey are in favor of amending the constitution to allow the northern region to offer gaming. If approved, the almost four decade monopoly of Atlantic City would come to an end. 50% of those polled are opposed. So it seems, if a vote were to take place today, the referendum would not pass.

Reportedly, an internal survey revealed that only 10% of the residents in the state have a high confidence level that officials in the state will place tax revenues from casinos as they should based on the resolution. The referendum includes information that states the casino tax revenues generated, around $150 million, will go towards Atlantic City redevelopment in regards to non-gaming options.

An additional study was conducted by Rutgers University that showed as much as 58% of residents were opposed to the measure and 35% were in support. In a joint statement, Fireman and Gural, stated that they believe deeply that a gaming expansion in northern New Jersey is a remarkable opportunity that should not be missed.

Both have committed a private investment of $4 billion to the state to create gaming options at world-class resort destinations. The benefits of this are 43,000 new jobs as well as hundreds of millions in revenues. The two also pointed out that New Jersey must beat New York to the punch or they will risk losing the opportunity permanently.

However, the two know that the date speaks for itself and voters are concerned as to the lack of details that relate to the effort of expansion. Despite OUR Turn NJ backing off their efforts, a group backed by Meadowlands Regional Chamber, Jim Kirkos, stated that he will continue to promote the casino expansion online including social media efforts. Kirkos was disappointed in the retreat by OUR Turn NJ.