Amid increasing belief that New Jersey voters will strike down the November referendum that would allow up to two casinos in North Jersey, supporters of the ballot measure are starting to raise their voices. Earlier this month, Meadowlands boss Jeff Gural blasted Atlantic City casino owners during a morning breakfast with the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce.
The Hudson County View taped the meeting and was able to catch many of Gural’s choice words for his casino-owning foes to the south.
Gural says New Jersey is lagging behind other states
Gural talked about competing states’ approach to casino gambling: They allow more of it so they don’t have to raise taxes on individuals or other businesses.
“What’s happened in these other states … is they’ve all gone out and allowed casino gambling and … they’ve done it to raise revenue so they don’t have to raise taxes,” he said. “Only New Jersey has done the complete opposite. They’ve basically made it clear their objective is to make casino owners as wealthy as possible and screw the taxpayers.”
Gural went on to launch a polemic against Caesers, saying the casino giant took revenue from its Atlantic City presence and built a casino just 70 miles away in Pennsylvania.
“The casino industry in Atlantic City basically takes the money that they make in Atlantic City and build casinos to compete with Atlantic City,” Gural told the audience. “And the best example of that is Harrah’s Chester.”
He went on to refer to Atlantic City’s eight casino owners as “greedy pigs” and “stupid,” methodically moving through his reasoning with measured emotion.
Bernardsville paper also argues money will go out of state
The same week that Gural spoke with the Bayonne Chamber, the Bernardsville News published an op-ed in favor of the referendum, using much of the same logic Gural communicated.
The main thrust of that newspaper’s argument was that the anti-casino campaigns are being funded, in large part, by groups in New York, Pennsylvania and abroad who, the paper wrote, “are afraid that North Jersey gamblers will go to the Meadowlands instead of driving to their Pennsylvania slot halls or New York gambling sites.”
If the referendum doesn’t pass, New Jersey residents will continue to head to New York and Pennsylvania, supporters argue, and the hundreds of millions of dollars poured into those states will never see New Jersey’s budget.
Polls not looking good for North Jersey casinos
Despite the burst of support for the November referendum, polls continue to show that residents are not in favor of the legislation.
A recent survey from Fairleigh Dickinson’s PublicMind research center revealed that 70 percent of respondents said they are opposed to casinos outside of Atlantic City, while only 24 percent said they were in favor of them.
Those numbers are particularly startling when compared to a June survey that said 58 percent of respondents were opposed to the referendum.