mayor & council
Honorable Jay Coffey
Governing Body's Message
This space is normally reserved for a message from the Mayor. This issue's message, however, is from the entire governing body of the Borough of Oceanport.
November / December 2016
For years, New Jersey’s horse racing and casino industries fought with each other for the public’s gambling dollar. Not that long ago, New Jersey had a monopoly on the East Coast casino dollar and held a pre-eminent position within the horse racing and breeding industries. Neither is true today. Surrounding states, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New York in particular, have exploited New Jersey’s unwillingness or inability to adapt to changes in the business climate and have relegated both our casino and horse racing /breeding industries to second class status. New Jersey’s horse racing and casino industries are still fighting with each other for the public’s gambling dollars. Sadly, they are fighting last century’s war.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With the help of our legislators, we need these two industries to unite and fight against our out of state competition. The ability to compete with surrounding states is at our fingertips and the successful business model we should be following is the one that has been used against us. Our competitors have demonstrated that the current, successful business model favors smaller, more conveniently located gambling venues, not large destination type venues. Additionally, supplementing horse racing purses with casino revenues and installing casino related gaming (slot machines or video lottery terminals) sites at existing racetracks benefits both industries.
On November 8, 2016, New Jersey’s voters will have the opportunity to vote on a matter entitled the “New Jersey Allowance for Casinos In Two Additional Counties Amendment,” which will be on the ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. The ballot question purports to expand casino gambling to areas outside of Atlantic City. In reality, however, casino gambling expanded to areas outside of Atlantic City over a decade ago (e.g., New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware) and this proposed constitutional amendment doesn’t expand casino gambling outside of Atlantic City as much as it specifically permits casino gambling in two specific sites in Northern New Jersey while specifically excluding two specific sites in Central New Jersey (Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway).
If this amendment is approved, new casinos will likely be built in Jersey City and East Rutherford. A website --- OURTURNNJ.COM --- trumpets the benefits of this constitutional amendment. This website, however, should be called OURTURNNORTHJERSEY.COM, because the legislation benefits North Jersey and does nothing for Central New Jersey at all.Â Indeed, insofar as North Jersey is somehow now defined as anyplace 72 miles north of Atlantic City, it’s as if Central New Jersey no longer exists.
The proposed legislation not-so-arbitrarily prohibits casino type gambling --- this would include slot machines and video lottery terminals --- in places that are within 72 miles of Atlantic City. Monmouth Park Racetrack, the most beautiful facility of its kind on the east coast, and Freehold Raceway, the oldest racetrack in the country, are both located in Monmouth County (Central New Jersey) within that 72 mile area of prohibition. The legislation, moreover, does little or nothing to guarantee enough gambling revenue will be set aside to supplement horse racing purses to the extent that New Jersey would be competitive with surrounding states.
The proposed constitutional amendment will not make New Jersey competitive in today’s market in either industry and we believe New Jersey would be better served if this amendment is rejected by the voters in November and, in turn, our legislators and the powers that be in the horse racing and casino industries got together and crafted an amendment that would benefit ALL of New Jersey and place New Jersey in a position to not only compete, but thrive in today’s marketplace.
The biggest problem with this proposed constitutional amendment is it lacks details. We haven’t been told exactly where the facilities will be built, how much money will be derived from them and, most importantly, how the money will be spent. Much like Nancy Pelosi’s “we’ll have to pass the bill so you can see what’s in it” explanation regarding Obamacare, our elected officials in Trenton want us to trust them on the details until after we’ve given them permission to spend our money.
Simply stated, this legislation isn’t worth the paper it isn’t written on. President Obama told us, “Trust me. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.” How did that work out? Well, Trenton is essentially saying to us, “Trust us. If you want to keep your racetrack, you’ll be able to keep your racetrack.” How do you think that will work out?We implore you to vote “NO” on November 8, 2016 to Ballot Question Number 1.