Fight for Northern New Jersey Casino Continues

Despite suspending their advertising efforts for a northern New Jersey casino, the Our Turn NJ group vows that they’ll continue fighting for a November ballot referendum.

This ballot will let New Jersey residents decide if there should be a casino allowed in the northern part of the state.

Jeff Gural, one of two developers who lead Our Turn NJ, claims that even if the vote fails, he’ll push his proposal to build a casino resort at Meadowlands Racetrack in two years.

According to NJ.com, Gural points out that the Meadowlands Racetrack won’t survive without a casino. But he also concedes that chances look bleak for gaining approval this year.

“Horse racing in New Jersey has been destroyed,” says Gural. “I thought if I built a beautiful facility and offered to give the taxpayers $500 million a year, people would get on the bandwagon. Not this year.

“Eventually, there will be a casino at the Meadowlands. There has to be.”

On Thursday, Gural’s partner, former Reebok CEO Paul Fireman, announced that Our Turn NJ would stop advertising and campaigning less than two months before a vote happens.

Our Turn NJ needs a referendum to pass because New Jersey law states that Atlantic City is the only NJ location that can offer casino gambling.

If the ballot fails as expected on Nov. 8, lawmakers could revive their campaign again in two years.

The referendum passing would be a big surprise because Gural and Fireman ran internal polls that show the vote failing.

If voters make the surprise move to approve the casino, it would be built at the Meadowlands site in Jersey City.

Fireman and Gural blame the lack of support on the opposition group Trenton’s Bad Bet, which is sponsored by casino unions and the Genting Group. The unions are from New York and Atlantic City, while Genting runs Resorts World Casino in New York City.

Gural expanded on this blame by saying that Trenton’s Bad Bet used a “brilliant strategy” that focused on how taxpayers couldn’t trust politicians, rather than the more-obvious argument that a northern NJ casino would hurt Atlantic City.

Gural says that this strategy was especially effective thanks to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders pushing that politicians are corrupt and can’t be trusted.

“It was a throw-the-bums-out attitude,” Gural explains. “You’re seeing that all over. That’s Trump’s message. That was Bernie Sanders’ message. The mood of the country is this anti-government message. It was something we weren’t expecting.”

Our Turn NJ countered that a northern New Jersey casino would draw millions of dollars in tax revenue, create thousands of jobs, and help NJ better compete with out-of-state casinos.

“It’s shocking to me that nobody wants my $500 million,” he says.

If the referendum fails as expected, it’s unclear whether Fireman will offer support again. But Gural is still passionate about fighting for a northern New Jersey casino.