Online.Gambling.org last reported on the North Jersey casino expansion referendum on October 18, 2016, just three weeks before the national election. At that time, proponents for the referendum were feeling a bit uneasy about the chances for a successful passage of the amendment. So gloomy in fact, that many proponents were already considering alternative plans that could possibly salvage a future campaign.
They had reason to be pessimistic. On November 8, an overwhelming majority of New Jersey voters voted down the ballot proposition that would allow casinos outside of Atlantic City. The lopsided result was 79 percent opposed to 21 percent in favor. The last survey poll before the election was fairly accurate. Conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind, the poll showed 70 percent of voters were against the resolution.
The founders of Our Turn NJ, Jeff Gural and Paul Fireman, said in a statement that, “We are disappointed, but not surprised, by tonight’s result. We have seen for some time now that the people of New Jersey were unhappy with the lack of details on this issue. We do not view the failure to pass Question #1 as a rejection of gaming expansion, but as a rejection of our state’s current political climate and a failure to have all the facts presented to them. New Jersey has the chance for billions in private investment and to create thousands of new jobs. We cannot squander this opportunity to our neighboring states. But New Jersey has to start from the beginning on gaming expansion. What the people of this state need to see is a transparent, competitive plan that outlines in full detail how gaming expansion would work. Anything short of that will mean that we continue to lose out on all the jobs, revenue, and economic opportunities that gaming expansion can bring to New Jersey.”
Trenton’s Bad Bet was a coalition organized to counter the rhetoric from Our Turn NJ. Bill Cortese, executive director of Trenton’s Bad Bet, said, “We are glad to see the overwhelming support across New Jersey opposing casino expansion. We attribute our success to a broad coalition of community leaders, unions, small businesses and residents who are convinced that North Jersey casinos would be a detriment to the entire state.”
Had the North Jersey casino expansion ballot passed, most people thought that would be the final nail in the coffin for Atlantic City. The east coast gambling mecca has been in a downward spiral for some time now. With four of Atlantic City’s twelve casinos now closed since 2014, and a fifth casino closed just recently as a result of a prolonged union strike, it was estimated that casino expansion in North Jersey would cause the closing of three more casinos, leaving just fort casinos in Atlantic City. Now that the issue of expansion has been settled, the focus can turn back to making Atlantic City great again.