Spending On North Jersey Casinos Referendum Breaks Records, Raises Eyebrows

[toc]The November referendum on whether to allow new casinos in North Jersey is generating a record amount of spending.

The figures for the North Jersey casino vote

Spending by interest groups on the ballot measure — which would allow the state to issue two gaming licenses outside of Atlantic City — has eclipsed $20 million already, according to NJ.com.

More from NJ.com:

The previous high was, fittingly, the 1976 question to allow casinos in Atlantic City, which cost $1.4 million at the time. That’s $5.6 million today when adjusted for inflation, ELEC said.


“We expected big spending on this issue, and the first wave disclosure reports bear that out,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director. “I still wouldn’t be surprised if final spending approaches $40 million.”

Money appears to be helping push against new casinos

So far, the money being spent by interests against the casinos appears to be having a great effect. Polls show that voters will overwhelmingly support a “no” vote on the new casinos.

More than $11 million has been spent on efforts against the measure.

The poor polling numbers for a “yes” vote come despite more than $8 million being spent by a group called Our Turn NJ in support of the referendum.

Where’s the money coming from?

While interests in AC have been pushing against the possibility of casinos outside of the city’s borders, they aren’t the only ones.

In fact, it came to light that interests outside of the state are largely bankrolling the campaign against North Jersey casinos. The company behind Resorts World Casino in New York City has been the main benefactor of a group called “Trenton’s Bad Bet,” which has produced and aired commercials against the ballot measure.

More from NorthJersey.com’s John Brennan:

More than $6 million of the coalition’s $11.6 million — a record for any referendum, according to state officials — has been provided by Malaysian-based Genting New York, which operates the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct in Queens.

The operators of the Montreign casino in the Catskills that is under construction and Resorts Atlantic City — the first legal gambling locale to open in Atlantic City, in 1978 — each are linked to about $2 million in spending. The remaining $1.5 million came from Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway.

New York casinos obviously have an interest in seeing the New Jersey casino industry remain in AC, and not creating closer regional competition.

Proponents of a “yes” vote put the opposition on blast for skipping out on a debate on the issue scheduled for Monday. Jeff Gural, operator of Meadowlands Racetrack — one of the likely recipients of a new NJ license — called out the NY casinos getting involved in New Jersey politics.

About the Author

Dustin Gouker

Aside from his role as editor at LegalSportsReport.com, Dustin Gouker writes extensively about the legal online gaming and US online poker industries, having played poker recreationally for his entire adult life. He has also covered sports for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among others.