Meetings & Information


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fight for public opinion on north Jersey casinos is underway

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Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Senate President Stephen Sweeney
RUTHERFORD, NJ -- June 4, 2016 -- Harness racing President Mark Ford along with Anthony Perretti and Mike Gulotta aligned forces with top state Democrats, county officials and union leaders on Friday at a news conference to convey their confidence to the public that casino gambling will be brought to the northern part of the state. Among those who spoke in favor of the expansion were Democrats Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Paul Sarlo, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Bob Gordon, and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney stood at the conference in front of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce stating that bringing casino gambling to the area was “the right thing to do for the whole state.”
"This gives us an opportunity to create thousands and thousands of construction jobs in the northern part of the state of New Jersey," Sweeney said. "But guess what; it gives us the ability to create thousands and thousands of jobs in the southern part of the state and helps us to rebuild Atlantic City, and gives Atlantic City the opportunity to be the destination we want it to be."
Building northern casinos will have a ripple effect that will benefit the economy state wide, not just Bergen County, according to County Executive Tedesco.
The Meadowlands is not the only proposed location, Hudson and Essex County are also being considered. However, it is the most important location for New Jersey horsemen.
Tedesco believes the Meadowlands is a “perfect spot” for gaming expansion it is already a “premier entertainment destination” because of the Met Life Stadium, large-scale concerts and the current development of the American Dream project that already take place in the area. “The best is yet to come especially when we add casino gaming to the mix.”
The public will have the opportunity to vote this November on whether or not casinos should be expanded via ballot question. New Jersey Senate Democrats released figures that state casinos could generate an estimated $4 billion in economic activity, and up to 20,000 construction and permanent jobs in North Jersey. The Atlantic City region will also benefit with $3 billion and thousands of jobs. It is very important that all horsemen go out and vote in favor of casino expansion this November.
Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

Fight for public opinion on north Jersey casinos is underway

  • Updated 

RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With voters evenly split on whether to approve two new casinos in the northern part of the state, a push to get voters to vote yes on the proposal got underway Friday in the Meadowlands region near New York City, where one of the proposed casinos could be built.
Political, business and labor leaders held a news conference in Rutherford to begin to shape public opinion on the proposal, which will be on the November ballot.
It will ask voters whether to approve casinos in separate counties in northern New Jersey, with part of the gambling revenue going to help Atlantic City redevelop itself.
Speakers said a successful campaign will stress the benefits for all of New Jersey and play down a north-south divide.
"This is the right thing to do for the whole state," said state Senate President Steve Sweeney. "What this is trying to do is recapture the dollars of residents who won't go to Atlantic City anymore."
Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the vote-yes camp will stress one central message: that casinos in north Jersey benefit the entire state. Up to $200 million a year in revenue from the new casinos would go to Atlantic City to help it become known as a diversified, family friendly resort that is less dependent on gambling.
A Fitch Ratings report on Thursday warned that north Jersey casinos could wipe out up to half of Atlantic City's eight casinos.
That was similar to a report commissioned by the main opposition group, No North Jersey Casinos, that warned that three to five Atlantic City casinos could go out of business if faced with in-state competition. That group is comprised of casino, business and tourism officials from Atlantic City, Atlantic and Cape May counties.
"We can build and rebuild two great tourism destinations in New Jersey — here and Atlantic City," said Kirkos, the Meadowlands business leader. "How great for New Jersey would that be? This is not about north and south. We can have both."
Democratic Sen. Paul Sarlo, who represents the Meadowlands region, acknowledged there will be well-funded opposition.
"There will be those who oppose this and who will spend a lot of money to oppose it," he said. "It will be a campaign. But this is an investment in New Jersey. That's the most important message we need to get out to voters."
The ballot question does not specify locations for the casinos, other than that they be in two counties at least 72 miles from Atlantic City.
The most commonly mentioned proposals are at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, where track operator Jeff Gural and Hard Rock International want to add a casino to the track complex, and in Jersey City, where footwear magnate Paul Fireman proposes a casino resort costing up to $5 billion.
Key details remain to be determined, including the casino locations and the rate at which they would be taxed. Sweeney and Sarlo would not commit to deciding and publicizing those details through legislation before the November vote. Both said they remain under consideration.

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