In New Jersey, the man behind racetrack operator Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment has reportedly declared that the state should wait until casinos have opened in southern New York before revisiting legislation that could permit new Class III gambling establishments to be built outside of Atlantic City.
According to a report from The Press of Atlantic City newspaper, Jeffrey Gural was one of the main proponents of a November ballot referendum that would have permitted two new Las Vegas-style casinos to be built in northern New Jersey. But, almost 80% of voters disagreed and the New Jersey Allowance for Casinos in Two Additional Counties Amendment, which was also known as Public Question One, was subsequently consigned to history’s trash bin.
“I don’t want to see this come on the ballot and lose again,” Gural told the newspaper during a talk at the 21st annual East Coast Gaming Congress held earlier this week at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City. “I’d rather wait six years and wait until New York is either open or getting ready to open; at which point I think the voters will say “wait a second, what are these Atlantic City people arguing? That opening a casino in northern New Jersey will hurt their business when there are three casinos opening in southern New York that are going to wipe them out?”
Also Chairman for real estate development firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, Gural reportedly additionally acknowledged that waiting until casinos open in nearby New York before trying to bring similar establishments to northern New Jersey would create more competition for his desired Class III facility at Meadowlands Racetrack. However, he pointed towards the cost of traveling across the Hudson River as a significant factor that could help to sway locals to stay closer to home in order to gamble.
“We’re slicing up the same pie but there are enough people,” Gural told The Press Of Atlantic City. “Don’t forget, the toll to go over the [George Washington] Bridge is about $16 or something like that.”
Ralph Caputo, a Democratic member of the New Jersey General Assembly and a supporter of bringing casinos to northern New Jersey, told the newspaper that he had learned lessons after voters overwhelmingly rejected Public Question One. He reportedly explained that legislators should have provided more details on what tax rates the new facilities would have been required to pay and not given license preference to existing Atlantic City casino operators.
“The fact is the people did not trust the politicians in Trenton,” Caputo told The Press Of Atlantic City.