The referendum to set up two new casinos in North Jersey and remove Atlantic City’s monopoly over the casino industry is set to go to vote in November 2016. More than one hundred business leaders, politicians, construction workers and officials from the labor union gathered together in Rutherford, in front of the office of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce in a show of support for the new referendum.
For the last forty years Atlantic City has enjoyed exclusive rights of being home to New Jersey’s casino industry but state legislators have proposed two new casinos in North Jersey in order to compete with the casino industry from neighbouring states. A recent Monmouth University poll has shown that the new reference currently hangs in the balance as around forty eight percent of those polled are currently in favour of moving casinos outside of Atlantic City.
Some of those present at the gathering in Rutherford included Jim Kirkos, Meadowlands Regional Chamber President; Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Senators from Bergen County, Paul Sarlo, Bob Gordon and Loretta Weinberg.
Sarlo believes that a lot of work needs to be done in order to clearly define and educate New Jersey voters as to why the two new casinos have been proposed and what are the benefits associated with setting up two new facilities in North Jersey. The Senator believes that referendum supporters will have to do a lot of hard work to get the attention of New Jersey voters as the current presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could prove to be a major distraction.
Kirkos stated that referendum supporters must work on assuring voters who are on the fence that any negative impact from the two new casinos will be fully addressed before the casinos are opened to the public and also convince them that there will be a transparent process in place to help determine the winning bids for the two North Jersey casinos.
The bill has been opposed by Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian along with a number of South Jersey legislators and Atlantic City casino owners who disagree with Sweeney’s views that Atlantic City will benefit from the two new casinos. Guardian believes that the approval of the North Jersey casinos will be detrimental to Atlantic City’s casino industry.
In a statement, Sweeney said “There’s a good reason for that — casino gambling never helped Atlantic City before. The city never really got the benefit that was promised, and that’s the state’s fault. This referendum would bring thousands of construction jobs to the northern part of the state, but guess what — it gives us the ability to bring thousands of jobs to the southern part of the state as we rebuild Atlantic City.”