Meadowlands Racetrack Owner Jeff Gural and ex-Reebok International head Paul Fireman were the two key developers pushing for the North Jersey casino referendum, which would allow them to develop two casinos outside of Atlantic City. The referendum, which goes to vote this November, is unlikely to be approved after different polls show that New Jersey voters are not in favor of the North Jersey referendum.
Gural and Fireman, who are the main backers of the ‘Our Turn NJ’ campaign, decided to withdraw their support towards the end of September after an internal poll showed that support for the referendum had declined from 50 percent to 37 percent. The Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRCC), which backed the referendum, expressed disappointment when Gural and Fireman pulled out, but promised to continue its campaign to push for casinos in North Jersey.
Now Gural has announced plans to host an open forum on October 19 in Bayonne which is being organized by the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce. The forum will commence at 8.30 am and attempt to provide New Jersey voters with accurate information; clear the air over all the media speculation and allow attendees to ask questions of Gural and Jason Settlemoir, who is the Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners general manager. The open forum is yet another attempt to sway New Jersey voters and educate them about the possible benefits of developing two new casinos in North Jersey.
Some of the proponents of the North Jersey referendum have been critical over the fact that there has been a lack of specific information regarding the exact locations of the two North Jersey casinos, the amount of gambling taxes it would generate for the state and how those funds would be used to develop the local communities and municipalities. They believe that since voters in New Jersey do not have this information, they will not be inclined to vote in favor of the North Jersey referendum.
However, the polls show that the majority of voters in New Jersey will not allow their decisions to be influenced by the additional information. A Rutgers poll conducted in September 2016 showed that out of those surveyed, only 5 percent would actually change their decision based on the location of the casino. Should the North Jersey referendum fall through, it will require a period of two years to pass before legislators can once again put the referendum on the ballot. Gural has confirmed that if the referendum fails in November, he will continue the campaign after two years.
Jay Coffey, the Bayonne Law Director and mayor of Oceanport where the iconic Monmouth Park Racetrack is located, has been one of the biggest critics for the casino expansion proposal. So far Coffey has not commented on the open forum in Bayonne or confirmed if he plans to attend the forum.