New Jersey residents will vote today on the North Jersey referendum which seeks to allow two casinos outside of Atlantic City. A deal was confirmed Monday evening that will improve the quality of horse racing in the state and help the industry balance its books.
Jeff Gural, owner of the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, is in favor of the North Jersey referendum and was one of the main financial backers of the ‘Our Turn NJ’ campaign as he has plans to develop a casino in partnership with the Hard Rock International. Monmouth Park is the only thoroughbred race track in New Jersey. Gural and Dennis Drazin who runs the Ocean Port race track have reached an agreement wherein purses will be subsidized up to $15 million each breed. Gural would also provide up to $5 million annually to assist with operating costs.
Drazin and Gural were at loggerheads earlier this year and as a result Drazin did not throw his full support behind the North Jersey referendum. However the new agreement appears to have satisfied Drazin who called on the horse racing industry on Monday to vote ‘Yes’ and support the referendum. The North Jersey Gaming Advocates group which wants casinos to be developed outside of Atlantic City was happy to see the horse racing industry throw its full support behind the referendum.
In a statement, Ron Simoncini, a representative for the Advocates group said “This should affirm for the voters that the prospect of new casinos in North Jersey will bring significant benefits to the state. This is a complex moment in New Jersey’s history, but one that has many sincere interests working to create equity across the board”.
Gural has also agreed to spend an additional $2 million each year to develop his track and make both his dirt and turf tracks ready for thoroughbred racing. Legislators who prepared the referendum had included a horse racing purse supplement but the formula used would result in the horse racing industry receiving less than one percent of the $600 million in revenues that the two new casinos are expected to generate.
Both Gural and Fireman decided to withdraw their financial support from the ‘Our Turn NJ’ campaign after internal polls showed that voters in New Jersey were not in favor of the referendum. While the support from the horse racing industry is definitely important to the referendum, it might have come at a time that is a bit too late for it to have much of an impact on the result of the vote. The latest polls show that between 55 to 71 percent of New Jersey voters will vote for Atlantic City to continue its 40 year monopoly on the gambling industry in the state.