03/15/2016 10:11AM

New Jersey referendum could pave way for casino at Meadowlands


New Jersey voters will be asked in a referendum this November to decide whether the state should allow two new casinos to open outside of Atlantic City, opening up the possibility that the Meadowlands harness track will get a long-sought casino license.

The state’s legislature passed a bill on Monday putting the constitutional amendment on this year’s ballot, and Gov. Chris Christie has said that he will sign the legislation. The amendment would allow for two casinos in the northern part of New Jersey, where they would draw from the vast New York City metropolitan area.

The Meadowlands harness track is owned by New York real estate developer Jeff Gural, and it has long been talked about as a potential casino site. Gural, who bought the track in 2011 from the state, operates casinos at two New York harness tracks, and he has lobbied aggressively for a casino license in New Jersey over the past five years.

Gural has pledged to pay a 55 percent tax on casino revenues to the state if his track is awarded a casino license. Atlantic City’s casinos, which have lost their competitive edge in the last decade by the legalization of casinos in neighboring states, pay an 8 percent tax to the state.

In 2013, Gural sold an undisclosed stake in the Meadowlands to Hard Rock International, a restaurant and casino operator. Gural’s agreement to buy the Meadowlands included a provision that allows him to sell the track back to the state for $100 million if a casino is approved for the Meadowlands sports complex and he is not granted the casino license.

Steve Norton More than 1 year ago
Since this article was written, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo has suggested a tax rate of 66% to be placed in enabling Legislation prior to the referendum. But his suggested tax will not work next door to Eastern Pennsylvania casinos, that pay a 55% tax on slots and 14% on table games. Maryland introduced a 67% tax on slots, but MD had the large Baltimore/ Washington population to count on, with the closest competition in West Virginia and Delaware. North Jersey casino customers have Sands Bethlehem and the Poconos nearby, providing tables and slots, that are also convenient to citizens of Manhattan and Staten Island. A slightly higher tax rate than PA, and a required $1 billion investment, might be acceptable if only one license is at stake. But even the PA tax rate would torpedo the $4.6 billion Jersey City proposal. The million-dollar question is how much will Atlantic City and Pennsylvania operators spend against the referendum. In Maryland we saw two companies, spend nearly $100 million on the casino referendum involving Prince George Co. (metro DC). A single casino in North Jersey could provide $100 million or more in support of Atlantic City, and possibly exceed the EBITDA impact that the North Jersey casino has on AC casino resorts. But AC has to find a way to secure air service into AC International, and open the resorts to new markets, and expand the reach for the convention/ trade show business.
Jay Abd More than 1 year ago
Casino will do well unless Aqueduct gets Live card game. I would suggest BIG M get non-smoking Casino. Notice 80% of the population is Non-smoker. Casino in Atlantic City is a joke. You have to walk thru smoking area to get to the non-smoking area. Make it non-smoking business will do very well. I’ll buy stock if they have a non-smoking casino. Parx-casino is smoking, Atlantic City is smoking. They must think for 20 years out. As more people get cancer from smoking the population will be 90% non-smoker.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Wow, it will be like gaming in Europe or Russia. At least 50% will be foreign nationals. However, due to its' very close locations to NYC, it will do very well.
Marc Francis More than 1 year ago
there is enough trash at this track the casino will only bring more trash!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
so much anger get some help try to be positive for a change in your life
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Try getting laid. You just might feel better about yourself....