North Jersey Casino Poll Reveals Dwindling Support
Posted on: September 21, 2016, 05:00h.
Last updated on: September 21, 2016, 03:09h.
The North Jersey casino referendum facing voters in November isn’t likely to pass, according to a new poll conducted by Rutgers-Eagleton’s Center for Public Interest.
In a study consisting of 735 registered New Jersey voters, Rutgers-Eagleton found that just 40 percent of respondents support bringing casino-style gambling north in the Garden State. That’s four percent less than the same poll concluded in March of 2016.
One in two Jersey respondents said they support keeping gambling limited exclusively to Atlantic City, while three percent said they’d prefer to eliminate all casinos statewide. Seven percent said they weren’t sure where they stood on the issue.
“Eagleton has been polling on permitting gambling in other parts of the state since 1979, and New Jerseyans across a number of demographics have never warmed to the idea,” Eagleton Center Interim Director Ashley Koning said in a statement. “If this pattern continues, there is little hope for the ballot amendment passing.”
One person who plans to vote in favor of the casino expansion referendum in November is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R). But that’s not necessarily a good thing for the pro-expansion side, as Christie’s own polling numbers are plummeting.
News broke this week that the governor allegedly knew three of his top officials were involved in closing down lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Federal prosecutors stated that they believe Christie was aware of his office’s involvement in the controversy that would become known as “Bridgegate,” a name that stems from former President Richard Nixon’s “Watergate” scandal.
During the morning rush hour on September 9, 2013, two of the three entrance lanes from Fort Lee, New Jersey, onto the George Washington Bridge were mysteriously closed. The public wasn’t pre-warned about the closure.
The closure caused a massive traffic jam and paralyzed the borough of Fort Lee on a busy Monday morning. Christie’s office has been accused of shutting down the lanes in response to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s (D) refusal to support Christie’s reelection efforts.
Christie continues to deny he had any involvement in Bridgegate, but voters aren’t buying what Christie’s selling. The Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds the governor’s approval ratings at an all-time low, with just 26 percent of New Jersey voters approving of his performance.
Mammoth Problem for Monmouth
The November casino ballot question would amend the New Jersey Constitution. It would allow for two casinos to be built in counties at least 72 miles from Atlantic City at a minimum cost of $1 billion each.
The Meadowlands area in East Rutherford is one location being considered. Billionaire Paul Fireman has also presented a casino plan for Jersey City.
One town that strongly opposes the referendum is Oceanport.
Home to the Monmouth Park horse racetrack, Dennis Drazin, whose Darby Development manages the venue’s operations, has been campaigning for years to legalize sports betting and live in-race betting. Drazin has also sought the right to house gambling machines at the track.
But Oceanport’s southern edge is just 70 miles from Atlantic City, two miles short of the referendum’s stipulations.
“Once again, Trenton politicians have put special interests over people by pushing for casino expansion into North Jersey,” Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey said. “This expansion would only benefit a small group of well-connected, New York developers, instead of the citizens of New Jersey.”
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Last Comment ( 1 )
Monmouth Mayor Coffey, is on the right track, that North Jersey should not be getting two casinos, but I believe a single casino up North, at the Meadowlands, would also produce funds for purses and other Racing purposes, where Monmouth races Thoroughbreds, a more popular breed than Meadowland's Harness Racing. A Meadowlands casino would also return an estimated $200 million a year, annually, to Senior and disabled programs; that have seen their funds from AC's casino win decline by $1.8 billion, since slots were approved in the Fall of 2006 in Pennsylvania. The Jersey City casino would take 3 to 4 years to plan and build; a Manhattan casino even longer; where the Meadowlands could be open with slot machines next year, subject to a successful referendum. And a full build-out of a Meadowlands Resort, would include a multitude of dining options, a superstar theater, entertainment lounges, and probably no more than 300 rooms. This would be much like the MGM; opening this Fall, just outside Washington , and serving D.C, Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. But there are two questions, that will be in the minds of the NJ voters; first is the tax rate. Jeff Gural, operator of the Meadowlands suggested, several years ago, that he could pay the same slot win tax as PA, which is 55%. A North Jersey casino, should also include table games; to make them competitive with Eastern PA casino, and Maryland, and give the Meadowlands casino a substantial advantage over Yonkers and Aqueduct, which only offer slots. PA taxes its table win at 16%, which would be suitable for North Jersey gaming. The second issue, leads back to 1974, when casinos were first proposed, but would be allowed anywhere in the State. NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) won the day 60% to 40%, and only succeeded two years later, when restricted to Atlantic City, with the 8% win taxes going to Seniors and disabled programs. So since the referendum includes two potential casino sites (that must be a minimum of 72 miles from AC); why not just pick two communities, and eliminate the rest of the State from consideration. And I would suggest that one of the locations chosen by the Legislature, be the Meadowlands, because it could be providing $200 million a year (or more) to Seniors and disabled programs; $200 million (or more) to Atlantic City, which should include programs that will help them transition from a casino resort to a convention/trade show resort, with casinos, and maybe provide real estate tax relief to casino resorts.. New Jersey will not loose 30,000 jobs, as portrayed by AC some opponents of the referendum; but would actually increase the number of New Jersey casino industry employees. Most of the likely $1 billion or more in win at a Meadowlands casino, would come primarily from Eastern PA casino, from Aqueduct and Yonkers racinos. And from NJ, Manhattan, Staten Island and Orange CO, NY. And much or the overall regions win growth; would come from convenience, especially on mid-week evenings. And a big new market would be impacted; by the visitors to Manhattan, staying at the City's 98,700 rooms. Using 80% mid-week occupancy, where business travelers and the convention trades are the primary occupants (at much higher room rates, than Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights), assuming 1.2 guests per room, ; I come up with roughly 20 million guest nights. These affluent guests, are a potential mid-week bonanza for a meal, entertainment, or casino play at a Meadowland's casino complex. Most tourist visitors, usually prefer week end dates (and the lower room rates),. and assuming a 60% week end occupancy, at 1.9 guests per room; we add another 15 million visitor nights, . That totals 35 million visitor nights, where even a small percentage of these visitors, businessmen and convention attendees, should find their way to the Meadowlands, the added casino revenues, should be several hundred $ million. My guesstimate, is that AC would only loose $250 or $300 million in win to a North Jersey casino, which would translate to a $50 to $75 million drop in earnings (EBITDA); which is much less that the probable $200 million, that would come to AC; with hopefully some to help underwrite new air service AC International, promote conventions and trade shows and possibly cut the Casino real estate taxes.