New Jersey residents Atlantic City

New Jersey residents think this landscape would look a lot more beautiful without the casinos and resorts littering the beachfront. (Image: Associated Press/nbcnewyork.com)

New Jersey residents aren’t too fond of casinos. A poll from Quinnipiac University finds that voters in the Garden State don’t believe gambling is good for the state, or even for Atlantic City.

An astonishing 62 percent of respondents said casino-style gambling, legalized in New Jersey in 1976, hasn’t been good for the state. Just 29 percent said they believe gambling has provided a benefit.

Perhaps even more surprising is that 60 percent also believe gambling hasn’t been beneficial for Atlantic City, while 35 percent declared the opposite to be true.

“Forty years after New Jersey voters approved casino gambling limited to Atlantic City, they say more than 2-1 that it was not the magic bullet it was cracked up to be,” Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll said in a press release. “And by wide margins, voters say casinos have not even helped Atlantic City.”

The poll is further proof that the November referendum posed to voters to bring casinos north had little chance of passing.

Gambling Crime

New Jersey’s decision to allow gambling to commence in Atlantic City made the beachfront town a tourism destination for decades. But as gambling expanded in neighboring states and across the country, Atlantic City lost its East Coast gaming monopoly, and with it, some of its luster.

Today, the city is broke, riddled with high unemployment, and sheathed in crime. According to the New Jersey State Police 2015 Uniform Crime Report, Atlantic City was the second-most violent town in the state.

For every 1,000 residents, 17.7 persons were involved in a violent crime. That rate trails only Camden (25.4 per 1,000), and tops Newark, Trenton, and Irvington.

Casino Chief Shown Door & Money

There’s currently a bitter war being waged in Atlantic City between local officials and state politicians. Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian (R) and his city council were forced to hand over the powers of his administration to Trenton after lawmakers voted to assume control of the city’s finances and governance.

The hostility is reaching a near boiling point after the state forced Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) Executive Director John Palmieri to resign. Appointed to the position in 2011, Palmieri is leaving office with $225,000 in severance pay and being replaced by a longtime ally to Governor Chris Christie (R).

“It appears we are willing to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars so that political insiders and cronies get jobs off the backs of working families,” Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-District 2) told the Philly Inquirer. Brown has been one of the most vocal critics of the state takeover of the city he represents in Trenton.

Palmieri’s term at the CRDA didn’t meet expectations. The CRDA mission statement declares the agency’s intentions are to “provide capital investment funds for economic development” and “promote opportunities for business expansion and commit to facilitating a vibrant economic investment and employment environment.”

Five casinos have closed since 2014. Unemployment is over nine percent in Atlantic City, far above New Jersey’s 5.2 percent statewide average.