Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Casino Referendum Ad Wars Heat Up

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Casino Referendum Ad Wars Heat Up

Article excerpt

IN A PRESS conference last week, Governor Christie announced that he would vote for the proposal that will appear in a referendum on November's ballot, which calls for expanding legalized casino gaming to North Jersey.

The question is an important one, and one in which you have as much say as the governor. At stake are not just the potential jobs that new casinos would bring, but also the impact of these new facilities on their host communities, on the regional transportation infrastructure, and on the cost when government focuses on economic development using gaming halls rather than other potentially more profitable or sustainable industries.

The question is also tricky one, one on which every voter in the state must now decide his or her position. And where you stand depends on what your interests are.

The outcome of the casino question is still up in the air. Several recent polls have found that a majority of New Jersey voters oppose the proposed expansion. Another survey found that Garden State evenly divided between supporting and opposing. Some voters have yet to make up their minds.

That can clearly be seen by those trying to influence your vote.

The Genting Group, a Malaysian-based conglomerate that runs Resorts World Casino, the profitable racetrack and virtual casino at Aqueduct in Queens, is teaming up with some of the South Jersey- based anti-expansion entities unified under the moniker "Trenton's Bad Bet," which calls itself "a diverse collection of concerned New Jersey community leaders, unions, businesses and residents that will work to oppose the New Jersey Casino Referendum that seeks to expand gaming into North Jersey."

Genting has already started purchasing tens of thousands of dollars worth of anti-referendum ads. Its interests are clear: It wants to protect its piece of the gaming pie. If casinos open in North Jersey, presumably fewer gamblers will be heading to Aqueduct, meaning lower profits and fewer jobs. Fair enough. And it is worth noting that cannibalization of the gaming market has been largely responsible for declining profits in Atlantic City, which is why Trenton's Bad Bet is not such a strange alliance of competitors. …

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