Pro-North Jersey casino expansion supporters and opponents have flooded the state of New Jersey with a record sum of nearly $20 million to persuade voters ahead of the November ballot question.
As the campaign goes down the wire, the Associated Press has projected that the groups supporting and opposing the casino expansion will ramp up their spending to ensure their respective victory.
“It’s already set a record for ballot questions, and I’ve been saying we may see $40 million in spending,” Election Law Enforcement Commission executive director Jeff Brindle told the news wire agency.
Base on the records obtained by the news agency, anti-North Jersey casino expansion shelled out more money compared to the group favoring casinos near the giant New York metro area. Casino expansion opponent Trenton’s Bad Bet reportedly spent $11.3 million out of the $11.6 million it raised during the July to September period.
Most of the financiers of Trenton’s Bad Bet have New York addresses, including Genting New York, which operates Resorts World Casino in New York. Genting New York, which is a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Genting Malyasia Berhad, has reportedly donated $6 million to the group.
“Trenton’s Bad Bet has received support from a diverse group of donors from within and outside the state of New Jersey who understand that casino expansion would result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic losses for the entire region,” Trenton’s Bad Bet spokesman Bill Cortese said in a statement, according to the news agency.
On the other hand, pro-North Jersey casino group Our Turn NJ has raised $10 million and spent $8.5 million. Its funding came from former Reebok chairman Paul Fireman and Meadowlands racetrack operator Jeff Gural.
But Fireman and Gural jumped off the sinking campaign after latest polls indicate that New Jersey voters will reject the casino expansion plan.
“The opposition’s lack of transparency is just more proof that these Malaysian and New York gaming interests only care about protecting their own profits,” Our Turn NJ spokesman Chris Donnelly said as he credited Fireman and Gural for being transparent about their effort.
The combined money spent by both Trenton’s Bad Bet and Our Turn NJ has eclipsed the 1976 spending record set during the time when voters need to approve gambling in Atlantic City. The Election Law Enforcement Commission documents showed that the 2016 effort topped $5.5 million, adjusted for inflation.