[toc]The chances of New Jersey voting for more casino developments in North Jersey have reduced after Our Turn NJ announced that it will no longer pay for advertising to promote the campaign.
The trigger for the decision seems to be the polling data released by the Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
The report issued on Sept. 19 showed 50 percent opposed to the expansion and 40 percent in favour. A small but important 3 percent of respondents are opposed to gambling anywhere.
The poll showed that the trend of public opinion is moving against the proposals; in March 49 percent were opposed.
Our Turn NJ commented:
“The data, however, speaks for itself. The current political climate in New Jersey and voters’ concerns about the lack of details relating to the effort have proved overwhelming.
Even knowing that an out-of-country gaming company that’s ends New Jerseyans’ gaming dollars to Malaysia is funding opposition ads does not have an impact. As such, with great reluctance we have decided to suspend the paid media component of the statewide campaign.”
The campaign goes on, on both sides of the issue
Although paid for advertising will end, the pro-casino campaigners will continue to campaign for the new development.
Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, told NJ.com that he was “extremely disturbed” by the news:
“While we recognize that the polling numbers were an uphill climb and in this toxic climate left a difficult path to success, we do not think the voters ever had a clear understanding of the positive impacts New Jersey stands to gain if the referendum passes.”
Opponents of the expansion will also keep campaigning to make sure the November referendum goes their way.
Debra P. DiLorenzo, chairwoman of the No North Jersey Casinos Coalition said:
“Although Our Turn NJ signaled they will suspend their media campaign, we will continue to fight any and all efforts to siphon dollars and jobs out of South Jersey.”
Assemblyman Chris Brown, (R-Atlantic) agreed:
“I am glad after two years of fighting we’ve proven it was pure folly for anyone to claim North Jersey casinos were inevitable and that building them in an oversaturated market while cannibalizing Atlantic City would somehow help the state of New Jersey let alone the families of Atlantic County, and shows the question should have never gotten on the ballot in the first place.”
Atlantic City has the most to lose from North Jersey casinos
The prospect of new casinos in North Jersey has caused some consternation among the owners of existing casinos in Atlantic City.
In May, Mark Giannantonio, CEO of the Resorts Casino Hotel forecast that three to five Atlantic City casinos would close of the referendum question is approved in November.
His opinion was reinforced by a research note from rating agency Fitch issued in June.
The proposals “could lead to as many as four additional casino closures,” forecast the rating agency, citing the Trump Taj Mahal, Resorts Casino and Golden Nugget as those “most susceptible to cannibalization.”
Even if the measure is defeated in the November vote, existing New Jersey casinos still face risks from out-of-state competition.
New York and Pennsylvania casinos continue to siphon off customers
North Jersey is gradually being surrounded by alternative casinos in New York and Pennsylvania. These are attracting customers who might otherwise have made it further south to the Atlantic City boardwalk.
Andrew Zarnett, a Deutsche Bank research analyst, suggested that a combination of out-of-state competition and North Jersey expansion could leave Atlantic City with only five casinos—three in the Marina District and two “center Boardwalk properties.”
The latest news from Our Turn NJ might have him revise his projections slightly upward, but Atlantic City casinos will continue to face a difficult business environment no matter how the vote goes.