Their name says it all: “No North Jersey Casinos Coalition.”
This past week, a consortium of South Jersey business leaders, political leaders and casino union reps met at the statehouse in Trenton for a press conference announcing the formation of the NNJCC and its clear opposition to a “yes” vote in the November referendum that would allow up to two casinos to open in North Jersey.
Should the referendum pass, it would be the first time in the state’s history that land-based casinos would legally operate outside of the Atlantic City. A recent poll showed the referendum was a dead heat.
“Our mission is to fight the ballot questions and to urge our citizens in the state of New Jersey to vote no on November 9,” coalition chairwoman Debra DiLorenzo said in an interview with SNJ Today.
Economic impact is the main concern
Over the past month, opponents of the November referendum have pointed out that new casinos in the north could cannibalize revenue from its southern counterparts.
One of the most outspoken critics, Resorts Casino CEO Mark Giannantonio, stirred up discussion when he told colleagues at the East Coast Gaming Congress that a forthcoming report from Fitch Ratings said up to four A.C. casinos could close if two casinos open in North Jersey.
‘One out of five’ jobs could be lost
Cory Morowitz, managing partner at GGH/Morowitz Gaming Advisors, told SNJ Today that his firm predicts that new casinos in the north could lead to job losses in the south.
That’s bad news for Atlantic City, where casinos are a vital source of economic stability.
“The gaming industry in Atlantic City is the economic driver for the entire region,” Morowitz said. “It’s responsible for around 1 out of 5 jobs in the region. If you get two mega casinos in North Jersey, it could lead to significant job losses,”
Morowitz said that anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 jobs could be lost.
Union president says South Jersey needs a break
Projected job losses are, as far as Local 54 President Bob McDevitt is concerned, another jab to a region that finds itself already down for the count after numerous devastating downturns.
He told Press of Atlantic City that local and national events have hit South Jersey hard:
- New casino competition from other states
- The national economic collapse
- Superstorm Sandy
- Atlantic City’s 2014 casino closings.
McDevitt told The Press the city just wants to be left alone to recuperate after a tough decade of more downs than ups.
Of course, that’s not happening, as the state has intervened in the city’s finances.
Study show that South Jersey has legitimate concerns
While McDevitt’s complaints might seem more like political maneuvering than real expressions of worry, a 2015 study from Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy revealed that the 2014 casino closings “affected 10,000 workers” and contributed to the city’s 10.9 percent unemployment rate (4.5 percent higher than the state average at the time of the study).
Furthermore, a Philly Voice article repoerted that six of the region’s eight counties were in the bottom 10 of the state in income, poverty, unemployment and several other categories.