A union leader says he’s “extremely disturbed” after the announcement and apparent about-face by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop that he is reconsidering his support of casino gaming in North Jersey.
New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council president, William T. Mullen, said the casino expansion in North Jersey could be a multi-billion dollar investment opportunity that would create permanent casino jobs as well as putting thousands of construction workers to work, according to nj.com. Mullen said just because Mayor Fulop may have decided he doesn’t want a casino in Jersey City doesn’t mean the opportunity, along with the economic benefits it would bring, should be lost to other cities such as Elizabeth, Newark, and Bergan County. More than 150,000 construction workers are represented by Mullen’s organization.
Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill commented on Mayor Fulop’s support of development in New Jersey‘s second-largest city, as well as the recent construction boom. In a statement, she said that while it can’t be disputed that Jersey City’s residential and commercial development has been the fuel for the region, the city reserves the right to reject any proposal it deems not to be in the best interests of the residents.
Fulop was concerned Wednesday after visiting Atlantic City over whether the benefits of bringing a casino to Jersey City would be outweighed by negatives that accompany a casino project, such as increased crime and broken promises of economic development. Wednesday, Fulop told The Jersey Journal, “I’m not so sure today that this is in the best interest of our city.” Considering the fact that Fulop has been soliciting the potential impact a casino would have on Jersey City for more than a year, over the next few weeks he’s going to contemplate his support of them. He said he would be announcing his position prior to the November ballot when it will be up to voters to decide whether the state constitution is amended to allow casino gaming outside of Atlantic City.
Mullen wasn’t the New Jersey construction industries only representative to express anger over the mayor’s comments. Fulop was reportedly approached by Bergen County Building Trades President Rick Sabato at a political fundraiser in Englewood on Wednesday night and voiced his displeasure.
Recently, gaming industry officials and gaming analysts predicted that if New Jersey is able to set up two new casinos in the northern portion of the state, they would be successful. Lawmakers want to see the expansion in an attempt to regain the gamblers who once visited Atlantic City, but older casinos in other states could be harmed. The casinos would be located more than 70 miles from Atlantic City, the only area that has offered gaming previously. While the locations for the two new casinos haven’t been named yet, Jersey City and the Meadowlands Racetrack seem to be the two mentioned most often.