New Jersey legislators wanted to pass a referendum in November that would break Atlantic City’s monopoly on the gambling industry and allow two new casinos to be developed in North Jersey. The casino industry in New Jersey has witnessed a significant decline in gross gaming revenue (GGR) over the years and five casinos have closed since 2014. Legislators believed that in order to compete with the casino industry in neighboring states, it was important to expand casino gambling in New Jersey.
Newark-based Trenton’s Bad Bet has campaigned hard this year to prevent expanded gambling in the state and spent millions of dollars in its efforts to educate New Jersey voters on the cons of developing casino resorts outside of Atlantic City. The group has opposed expanded gambling due to the fact that it believes it would be detrimental to Atlantic City’s struggling casino industry and would further reduce GGR for Atlantic City’s casinos.
Trenton’s Bad Bet chief financial backer is the Genting Group which operates the Resorts World Casino in New York. The campaign against expanded gambling proved to be successful as New Jersey voters decided against moving casinos outside of Atlantic City. Legislators need to wait for atleast two years before they can renew their efforts to place the bill on the ballot yet again.
However Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex has introduced a new bill that looks to allow online gambling and the introduction of video lottery terminals (VLTs) at the Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford and Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport. The move to introduce online gambling and VLTs at these facilities is yet another attempt to boost gambling revenues in New Jersey.
Trenton’s Bad Bet has promised to continue their efforts to stop expanded gambling in the state. In a statement, Bill Cortese, executive director of Trenton’s Bad Bet said “This continued effort to expand gaming outside of Atlantic City after such a significant defeat at the ballot box is a slap in the face to New Jersey voters and reinforces the case that special interests will stop at nothing to get their way”.
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission stated that close to $24.6 million was spent in the lead up to the November referendum by proponents and opponents of the referendum, making it the highest spending campaign to have been recorded in New Jersey.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University reveals that the majority of voters in New Jersey do not believe that the casino industry is good for the state. The poll results also show that 79 percent are against expanded gambling in the state. This is an increase based on the poll numbers gathered in November during the Question One ballot.