The latest on the North Jersey casino referendum
The Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics released the findings of its latest poll, which dealt with state politics in New Jersey. One of the questions asked of poll respondents had to do with the November referendum that would allow up to two casinos in North Jersey.
Here’s the question that was asked of respondents:
Right now, casino gambling is only allowed in Atlantic City. Do you approve or disapprove amending the New Jersey state constitution to permit casino gambling in two additional counties in the state that are at least 72 miles from Atlantic City?
Poll respondents rejected that idea by a wide margin. Just 35 percent approved of the amendment, while 58 percent disapproved; seven percent are undecided. Republicans were slightly less opposed to the ballot measure than Democrats.
What’s that mean for the NJ ballot measure?
That leaves a steep hill to climb for interests that would like to see casinos added in the northern part of the state, to better compete with regional casinos in New York and Pennsylvania.
“Eagleton has been polling on permitting gambling in other parts of the state since 1979, and New Jerseyans across a number of demographics have never warmed to the idea,” said Ashley Koning, interim director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling . “If this pattern continues, there is little hope for the ballot amendment passing.”
Once upon a time, polls showed the two sides of the measure in a dead heat.
The opposition, thus far, has seemed far more organized and has been spending more money on advertising against North Jersey casinos than supporters.
More opposition for new casinos
One of those opposition groups, called Trenton’s Bad Bet, rolled out its latest argument.
The group highlighted that the top government officials in the borough of Oceanport are against the referendum publicly this week:
“Once again, Trenton politicians have put special interests over people by pushing for casino expansion into North Jersey,” said Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey. “As currently proposed, this expansion would only benefit a small group of well-connected, New York developers, instead of the citizens of New Jersey.”
“Trenton continues to keep the public in the dark and expects voters to support a measure that would fail to truly help the residents and industries they claim to help,” Coffey went on. “We have seen firsthand here in Oceanport what Trenton’s empty promises look like and we cannot let that happen to the rest of New Jersey.”
Oceanport is the home to the horse racing track, Monmouth Park, which would not be eligible for one of two new gaming licenses. That’s because it’s too close to Atlantic City. From NJ.com:
Unfortunately for Monmouth Park, which has been unsuccessfully lobbying for permission to house casino-style gaming and sports wagering in recent years, Oceanport sits just inside that 72-mile radius, at a distance of approximately 70 miles.