New Jersey Assemblymember Ralph Caputo didn’t mince words when he criticized campaigns opposing the North Jersey casino referendum.
‘Innuendo and outlandish accusations’
Caputo issued a press release on Thursday urging New Jersey voters to back a November ballot measure that would allow for up to two gaming licenses to be issued outside of Atlantic City.
“There’s no doubt about it. Powerful and well-heeled political, corporate and labor interests outside New Jersey will spend whatever it takes to defeat the Referendum for North Jersey casinos in order to keep billions of dollars of our gaming revenue flowing out of New Jersey and into their pockets,” Caputo said.
“They like things exactly the way they are, and will use innuendo and outlandish accusations to convince New Jersey taxpayers to vote against our own best interests because it benefits them, and that offends me.”
Rhetoric, ads ramping up on North Jersey casinos
Caputo’s strong words come as New York interests are getting involved in the New Jersey casino issue, on both sides. At least two NY entities are actively working against the North Jersey referendum according to the New York Daily News.
Both the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council and Resorts World Casino in Queens are deploying digital and television ads against the measure. The latter would obviously suffer because of the increased competition from a new nearby casino, if the referendum passes.
The campaigns Caputo was talking about include TV, radio and print ads as well as direct mail.
Caputo lays out the case for North Jersey casinos
Caputo laid out the arguments that the referendum’s proponents have been extolling all along, including:
- New casinos means new jobs;
- North Jersey casinos will boost the state economy;
- Taxes on the casinos will provide more revenue for state government.
The core of the argument is that New Jersey is losing out on gambling revenue by not adding casinos in other parts of the state. There is already a great deal of regional competition in neighboring states, and continuing to keep the AC monopoly in New Jersey in place is just helping gambling facilities in the likes of New York and Pennsylvania, the argument goes.
“People no longer have to travel great distances to gamble,” Caputo said. “For many, gambling has evolved into a pasttime of convenience and we, Atlantic City and the State of New Jersey, are losing a huge portion of that customer base to facilities that are simply easier to reach.”
It’s also still North Jersey vs. South Jersey
The North Jersey casino proponents like Caputo also are waging a battle against interests within the state. The No North Jersey Casinos Coalition has also been pushing against the referendum more vocally in recent weeks.
While the referendum is designed to give an infusion of cash to cash-strapped Atlantic City, there are also people predicting that the addition of North Jersey casinos could worsen things in AC. Studies have estimated that up to four AC casinos could be forced to close if two new casinos are built upstate. And that was before the Trump Taj Mahal’s looming closure.
The predictions of boom or bust for New Jersey’s gambling industry are in the eye of the beholder. But it is clear that voters are going to hear plenty from both sides in the months before the November referendum.