North New Jersey Prepares for a New Casino Development? (Part II)

Meadowlands Casino development proposal

Jeff Gural plans to make a lavish gaming center in North Jersey, although his plans have been met with some roadblocks.

In part I of the Meadowlands casino story, we took a look into what the current situation is with the proposed gaming facility. Chris Christie proposed a ballot referendum for the residents of New Jersey to essentially decide the fate of the planned casino. If given the necessary backing by residents and also officials, then it would have the capacity to swallow up the business in Atlantic City.

• Many Atlantic City magnates are against the proposed development
• Governor Chris Christie supports the new casino project
• Voters will eventually the decide the fate of the casino

But Gural has thought of a way to get the important support from the local residents of New Jersey, who are opposed to the Meadowlands casino development. He has continually stressed that a large portion of the tax revenues generated by his planned casino, would in fact go to rebuilding the gaming industry in Atlantic City. Around USD 200 million (from USD 500 million tax revenues) would flow into the coffer of AC, a point that sounds rather appealing.

The residents of New Jersey retain the power

In order for there to be any casinos outside of Atlantic City, there would have to be a constitutional amendment which would permit gaming establishments in North Jersey. Under current US gambling laws, only Atlantic City is granted such a privilege, while other area in the state are not allowed to operate casinos. The initial step would be placing a referendum to the ballot, and the Legislature would have to approve the legislation. Gural is adamant that the voters will lean towards his ideas, a point to which he has stressed “All I’m saying is, let the voter decide.”

Gural’s potential partner, Hard Rock, in the upcoming deal believes that there would be great support for their casino ambitions if Atlantic City were to be handed major economic aid from the tax revenues. Chief executive officer of the iconic restaurant chain, Jim Allen, believes that Atlantic City no longer commands the same image as before – the one that many believed it to be the best of the best in the gaming and entertainment industry on the East Coast.

He highlighted that it is important for the city to reinvent itself and find an image that would suit it in the long-run. There are many aspects that should be considered by the city’s officials, however the most obvious ones are the infrastructure and the crime element. Some of the buildings are a little old and could make use refurbishments, while there are parts of the city that are not too appealing for visitors, as they are riddled with crime, gambling news reports. Should these problems be solved, it could have the potential to attract far more visitors in the future.

The strategy behind this project is quite interesting, which would definitely help them get the needed support from the voters. It would rather be a casino that rewards casinos in the region. Allen highlighted that the Meadowlands casino would be not be a destination that caters to gamblers on a 24/7 basis, but rather they would focus on servicing the visitors only during the days, which would mainly come from New York. Atlantic City would conversely accommodate players that are looking to spend a greater amount time away from their home. The plan is therefore to split up the business, and make it equally beneficial for everyone, which doesn’t sound like a bad deal.

Opinions remain divided on the new casino project

Mark Giannantonio

Many gaming bosses from Atlantic City are not very forthcoming towards the whole idea. They are concerned that too much traffic will shift towards the Meadowlands casino, effectively leaving them bare without any business. By their standards, this would only increase the danger of bankrupting the remaining gaming facilities in Atlantic City, considering that some notable ones like Revel, Atlantic Club, Showboat and others have already fallen under. The worrisome sentiments were expressed by Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel, by declaring, “We’re going to lose a lot of those customers.”

He is surprised at the fact that casinos would even be considered as a serious deal for the North of New Jersey, according to mobile casino gambling sites. Especially since Atlantic City is fighting tooth and nail to stay afloat amidst the tough economic climate. Based on his assessments, adding a gaming facility in North Jersey would force two to maybe even three casinos in Atlantic City to file for bankruptcy.

The general manager of the Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino hotel, Tom Pohlman, also stood by his fellow Atlantic City casino competitor. He is not convinced that the new casino development would add any value of economic benefit to the residents of New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie on the hand disagrees with them, strongly believing that the addition of a fresh gaming center would aid the economy. “If we could plant our flag firmly in the ground, particularly in the northern part of the state, I think that would make the project even more successful,” the Governor claimed.

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