09/23/2016 8:29AM

Developers suspend New Jersey casino push


Two New Jersey real-estate developers who were seeking approval to build casinos have suspended an advertising campaign supporting a casino referendum, they announced on Thursday.

The suspension of the campaign is an acknowledgement of the weak polling numbers in support of the referendum, which would have authorized two new casinos in the northern part of the state. A recent poll showed that 58 percent of voters were opposed to the referendum, with 35 percent approving.

The campaign, called Our Turn New Jersey, was funded by Jeff Gural, the owner of the Meadowlands racetrack and two racetrack-casinos in upstate New York, and Paul Fireman, who was seeking to build a casino in Jersey City, just over the Hudson River from Manhattan.

“The data . . . speaks for itself,” the group said, in a statement released on Thursday. “The current political climate in New Jersey and voters’ concerns about the lack of details relating to the effort have proved overwhelming.”

Gural and Fireman had stated that 2 percent of the revenues from their casinos would have been set aside for harness and Thoroughbred purses at the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. For that reason, horsemen in the state – who operate Monmouth Park under a lease with New Jersey – had supported the referendum.

A group called Trenton’s Bad Bet has been countering Our Turn’s advertising campaign. The group is partially funded by Genting Group, the Malaysian company that operates Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, the most popular casino in the New York metropolitan area.