The voters by way of referendum will decide in 32 days if casino gambling will remain solely in Atlantic City or if North Jersey will be permitted to have up to two casinos. The signs urging voters to say no to North Jersey casinos are popping up on roadways and in front yards around the area.
The 2nd Legislative District Assemblymen, Republican Chris Brown and Democrat Vince Mazzeo do not always share the same opinion, but opposing North Jersey casinos is one issue where both men have publicly stated that permitting gaming outside of Atlantic City would have a devastating effect on Atlantic County and beyond in southern New Jersey.
On Sept. 22 the non-profit group Our Turn headed by North Jersey developer Jeffrey Gural suspended their advertising campaign promoting passage of the referendum in favor of North Jersey casinos citing political climate. Both Brown and Mazzeo were quick to comment that voters not only locally but statewide do not support the referendum or the plan to expand gaming outside of Atlantic City.
Following Gural’s announcement Brown said, “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.
Second, I want to point out the reason the group is pulling out of its media campaign is ‘the political climate’ and the lack of details have proved overwhelming."
Brown has been publicly fighting the North Jersey casino plan for more than two years and said he was the only local legislator who appeared at every committee meeting and hearing in both houses of the legislature. The republican contends the plans of how North Jersey casinos would benefit Atlantic City were never spelled out and do not address the permanent loss of jobs that he says will result if casino gaming opens in the northern part of the state.
“How is that money that you are earmarking for Atlantic City actually going to help Atlantic City?” Brown asked. “Is it going to pave the roads so that the people who are unemployed can get out of town?”
Mazzeo was quick to comment about Gural’s statement and the suspension of Our Turn’s media campaign and said in a statement, “While supporters of North Jersey casinos have waived the white flag in defeat let's remember that the fight isn't over. Let's take this opportunity to push our neighbors, friends and family to stand opposed to this horrendous ballot measure that would put thousands of Atlantic County's hard-working middle-class families out of work.”
The democrat is also a small business owner and is taking advantage of being able to spread his message. The sign along New Road in Northfield outside of B.F. Mazzeo Fruit and Produce offers one dozen eggs for 99 cents on one side but the larger message is “Vote No to North Jersey Casinos” on the other.
“Whatever new gaming revenue Atlantic City would receive in this scheme will never outweigh the economic collapse the region would face. The effort to expand casino gaming is on life support,” Mazzeo said in his statement and invited voters to encourage friends and family in this area and especially those living in North Jersey to vote against the referendum.
Brown is warning voters not to be complacent that just because the media campaign to oppose the referendum has been suspended; “Despite Our Turn's decision to stop its media campaign, the question is still on the ballot and we can't stop our efforts,” said Brown. “We still have to show up and on Nov. 8 vote against public question No. 1.”