Mazzeo: Don't be misled by supporters of North Jersey casinos

By Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D - Atlantic)

Last week, Jeffrey Gural, the man behind the effort to put a casino in the Meadowlands Racetrack complex in Bergen County, penned an guest commentary filled with falsehoods about the millions of dollars that would be diverted to Atlantic City for the purposes of economic development and job creation. Nowhere does it say that he stands to profit millions on the backs of South Jersey families.

I feel it necessary to call out Gural and the supporters of this disastrous effort for spreading false promises to voters. Let me be unequivocally clear: Atlantic City receiving $200 million a year is nothing more than conjecture - an attempt to deceive voters into believing that this misguided plan will benefit Atlantic City and the area's hard-working middle-class families and seniors.

Here is the reality: To date, there has been no legislation put forward to provide for the tax rate of these new casinos, where they would be located and how casino operators would be chosen, just to name a few of the mysteries surrounding this issue.

For months, the supporters of this referendum have met behind closed doors without an honest and transparent plan to show the voters. Now, in a matter of days, residents across the state will be receiving their vote-by-mail ballots and will be casting their vote on a referendum without pertinent information from the individuals supporting it.

According to a study by the renowned Morowitz Gaming Advisors, here's what is likely to happen if this referendum passes: North Jersey could take $1.4 billion in gaming dollars out of Atlantic City. That would mean the closure of three to five casinos and loss of over 20,000 jobs, ranging from casino employees and vendors to businesses on the Boardwalk and in surrounding communities. That loss is worth $2 billion from the local economy.

Additionally, Atlantic County - which already leads the nation in home foreclosures - will face an even greater housing crisis with thousands of new families unable to make mortgage payments or put food on the table on for their children.

The supporters of North Jersey casinos have not one study, not one shred of fact to back up their claims. If you believe Atlantic County is on the wrong track now, just wait until two North Jersey casinos open.

In all, whatever new gaming revenue Atlantic City would receive in this scheme will never outweigh the economic collapse the region would face. Never.

The effort to expand casino gaming is on life support. In November, let's end it once and for all. Join me on Election Day in voting no to expanding casino gaming to North Jersey so we can protect hard-working families from being sent to the unemployment line.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, is also a small-business owner.

The Press of Atlantic City, 9/22/16