Unlike the recent presidential election or World Series, the underdog did not come out victorious in the North Jersey casino referendum.
However, despite the lopsided vote against the ballot measure, some remain hopeful that New Jersey voters will one day come around to the idea of allowing casinos outside of Atlantic City. In fact, the defeat seems to have steeled the resolve of those who want to see the law change.
Hard Rock boss says he’ll wait it out
The proposed amendment to New Jersey’s casino law would have allowed up to two casinos to open in North Jersey. Supporters of the referendum were pretty outspoken about the fact that more casinos meant keeping more revenue in New Jersey. Right now, the argument goes, casinos in New York and Pennsylvania steal customers away.
This past week, Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen told NJ.com he’d be willing to try again to ask the state’s voters to expand casinos to North Jersey:
“CEO Jim Allen told The Associated Press on Tuesday he’s prepared to wait two years or even much longer to build the casino his Florida-based company wants to add to the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, where the NFL’s Jets and Giants play home games.”
New licenses stand to benefit
His motivation for keeping the hope alive is understandable. Opening a North Jersey casino stands to bring Allen and others — Meadowlands operator Jeff Gural comes to mind — huge revenue opportunities.
And with Atlantic City fumbling through its budget, leading to a state takeover of its finances, they stand to swipe some business from the teetering pillar of New Jersey gambling.
Experts have guessed that Atlantic City can sustain six to eight casinos, which means the city currently is at capacity.
The citizens’ perspective: A letter to the editor
Public distaste for the casino referendum was pretty evident; most coverage focused on the naysayers. However, supporters have spoken up in the wake of a vote that ended up being a blowout.
One such voice made its way into the New Jersey Herald’s opinion section. The author of a letter pointed out that it takes North Jersey residents three hours and $15 in tolls to get to Atlantic City. He also noted that neighboring states feature top-notch casinos and continue to build more.
His perspective brings up the point that nobody seems to be talking about. New Jersey voters have protected Atlantic City as if it was an untouchable shrine to gambling.
While that’s a noble idea, it’s hard to deny the city is becoming a dangerously unstable artifact of what was once a thriving mecca for gamblers.