While Trump and Hillary duke it out on the national stage (and on Twitter), New Jersey politicians are gearing up for what promises to be an equally bitter fight over the north Jersey casino ballot referendum.
Monday witnessed the launch of the No North Jersey Casinos coalition (NNJC), a group that reportedly includes over 300 businesses, public officials, labor leaders and private citizens who don’t want the state constitution amended to permit construction of two casinos outside Atlantic City.
The ‘no’ camp believes AC’s fortunes have stabilized following years of decline brought about by new casinos opening in adjacent states and thus now is exactly the wrong time to introduce new in-state competition.
The ‘yes’ side has argued that north Jersey casinos will keep gamblers from travelling further north to casinos in New York and that a portion of the revenue from the north Jersey casinos will help offset any further declines in AC.
Bollocks, says the no camp, which includes the owner of Resorts Casino Hotel, who commissioned a report earlier this year that said as many as five of AC’s eight remaining casinos could close if the north Jersey casinos are built, leading to up to as many as 23k casino staff hitting the bread lines. Fitch Ratings recently offered its own dire estimate of up to four casino closures.
The Associated Press quoted NNJC supporter Debra DiLorenzo, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, saying the group was prepared to spend “formidable” money to get its message out because they were aware that “the other side is going to spend heavily on this.”
The ‘yes’ camp, including state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, launched its campaign 10 days ago in front of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Meadowlands complex is expected to be one of the sites chosen for the new casinos, should voters approve the plan in November.
The most recent Monmouth University poll showed New Jersey voters equally divided on the pros and cons of building casinos outside AC.