Harry Hurley

Beyond who will be the next president of the United States, members of Congress, county and local elected officials, the statewide ballot question seeking to expand legalized gaming to North Jersey is the most important consideration on your ballot.

Mark Giannantonio is the president and chief executive officer of Resorts Atlantic City Casino Hotel. He is also the most important leader and voice in the effort to defeat the upcoming Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 statewide ballot referendum question.

Giannantonio's steady hand has been calming and he has been hyper-focused about defeating this question. 

Make no mistake about it, if this measure passes, it will be devastating to the Atlantic City and southern New Jersey regions.

I spoke with Giannantonio about the effort. He confidently stated in his usual humble manner, "I can tell you that the campaign will be sophisticated and well funded to ensure victory."

Giannantonio made it clear that the path to victory is there, but that much hard work is required over the next 85 days to defeat the effort to bring casino gaming to northern New Jersey.

A new entity has formed since the last time we addressed this issue. 

Trenton Bad Bets is headed by executive director Bill Cortese. This organization will work in harmony with the No North Jersey Casinos Coalition, led by Deb DiLorenzo.

A diverse group of business, unions and citizens has officially announced the formation of Trenton Bad Bets. They will work aggressively to oppose the attempt to expand gaming to northern New Jersey.

Generating a focused, accurate awareness among the electorate is one of the most important components of this effort. Cortese wants voters to understand that “this is a bad deal for the taxpayers. We also want to make sure that residents have a voice in this process. So far very little information has been shared –  a typical play by Trenton politicians when they want to move something through the back door.”

UNITE-HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt believes that “this referendum is another bad deal for New Jersey, designed to help special interests while harming taxpayers.

“We are making it clear that we will do everything in our power to ensure these new casinos never come to be. Trenton has a track record of making promises it fails to keep and there’s no reason to believe the benefits touted in this proposal will be any different,” concluded McDevitt. 

DiLorenzo has declared that “it is indisputable that expanding gaming within New Jersey will only result in more of what the South Jersey region has already lived through –  more casino closures, more jobs lost, less vendor money being spent and higher unemployment.”

DiLorenzo's remarks are prophetic, with the recent announcement that the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort is set to close after the Labor Day weekend. This is a closure even before North Jersey casino competition.

An important point rarely discussed is that the ballot question is very cryptic in nature. It doesn't even tell the voters where the potential North Jersey casinos would be located.

The rule of thumb in the game of life is quite simple. If an effort is not transparent during the introduction and approval process, you can expect even worse if it were to actually pass.

Before you vote, demand to know: Where will these casinos be located? Who will be the developers? What will be the true impact to South Jersey and North Jersey?

If the answers to these and other important questions remain unanswered or vague, it is imperative to defeat this scheme.

The latest polling data points to this question to expand gaming to North Jersey going down to defeat. However, that's before millions of dollars are spent over the next three months. 

We have seen political candidates' lives completely re-written in less than 90 days. If those special interests who want to bring casinos to North Jersey think they can win, they are prepared to wage a massive spending and propaganda campaign to try and win.  

There is no question that the cannibalizing of our leading industry would crush the Atlantic City/South Jersey region. But, it would also be bad for the entire state.

If New Jersey introduces legalized casino gaming in North Jersey, New York state would pounce on this without delay. We would be inviting additional proliferation of gaming in a border state, which would further degrade our gaming jurisdiction.

For more information about the new organization, their website is www.TrentonsBadBet.org.

Harry Hurley is the president of Harry Hurley Consulting and Communications LLC. He hosts the daily talk radio program “Hurley in the Morning” 6-10 a.m. weekdays on Townsquare Media, WPG Talk Radio 1450. He has hosted various programs for local television and is the editor and publisher of his news and information website, harryhurley.net. Send comments to HarryHurley@aol.com.     

Stay informed! Sign up to receive breaking news delivered to your inbox.