Meadowlands Racetrack Optimistic That New Jersey Voters Will Approve New Casino In North Jersey

Written By Dan Holmes on April 24, 2024
Image of Jeff Gural in front of Meadowlands Racetrack for a story on Gural believing voters would approve a casino at the racetrack

The owner of Meadowlands Racetrack believes a North Jersey casino could receive enough support for development, according to a recent news story.

Operators of Atlantic City casinos have worried about competition from across the bridge in New York, but now they fear a casino in the northern part of the state could also appear in the market, if voters approve one.

According to the Associated Press, one of three open casino licenses in the state could be targeted by gaming developers hoping to build a casino resort in the northern part of New Jersey – in the Meadowlands region.

Atlantic City casino profitability has struggled in recent years

This possibility looms as online casinos in NJ continue to grow in the Garden State, with some estimates showing that revenue from online gaming may surpass retail activity from the longstanding Atlantic City casinos.

Neighboring New York will see the arrival of three new casinos some time in 2025, all located in or near New York City. Those venues, some backed by big brand names in the industry, could cut into the visitors and profits of Atlantic City.

Casino operators, politicians and community leaders in New Jersey are taking notice, as the first legitimate threat to the monopoly that Atlantic City once had on gaming on the northeast coast appears to be materializing. The region also faces economic challenges, based on tax revenue from the last fiscal year.

According to data from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, seven of the nine NJ casinos have not returned to the revenue levels they enjoyed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five Atlantic City casinos closed between 2014 and 2016.

“Now more than ever we know there’s a threat coming with New York City gaming coming,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said at the East Coast Gaming Congress earlier this month.

“We understand the threat. We want to continue to work together to do things right to put Atlantic City into a prime position, no matter where these casinos are.”

Gural: Opening of NYC casinos could make Meadowlands casino more realistic

Ironically, it may be the advent of New York casinos in the Big Apple that leads to a casino in the Meadowlands.

Customers in northern Jersey may grow weary of traveling into NYC to visit a new casino, what with the cost of bridge tolls and other fees. A Meadowlands casino would appeal to Jersey residents who want to stay nestled within their home state to play slots, table games, and feast on casino buffets.

“I’m just waiting for New York to open,” Gural told the Associated Press. “People will say, ‘Why am I driving over the George Washington Bridge and paying an $18 toll and sitting in traffic to go gamble?'”

As Gural noted, as reported by the Associated Press, he currently has a deal with Hard Rock to build out a casino at the Meadowlands Racetrack. That agreement has existed for some time, obviously without any progress after Garden State voters rejected a referendum to expand casino gambling in 2016. Gural emphasized that the referendum failed because verbiage indicated that it would involve developing multiple casinos without location specifications.

But Gural still has hope, so much so that he expects land-based casino expansion within 10 years.

“People don’t want a casino in the neighborhood,” Gural said. “If we make it clear it’s only at the Meadowlands, common sense tells you there will be a casino in the Meadowlands.”

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a contributing writer for PlayNJ. He has written three boooks about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as well as Major League Baseball. An avid writer, runner and enjoyer of lemon bars, Dan lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and, oftentimes, a nearby orange cream soda.

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