Gural’s Bullish on Atlantic City Only if North Jersey Casinos Get Voter OK.

Hard Rock proposed casino at Meadowlands.
Proposed Hard Rock Casino at Meadowlands.

Listen: Exclusive ACprimetime interview with Jeff Gural. He’s a real estate developer and a lover of horses. But most of South Jersey, at this point, only see Jeffrey Gural as a potential breaker of AC’s monopoly on NJ gaming. Mr. Gural plans on building a casino at the Meadowlands if NJ voters green-light a referendum in November.


Gural warns: if Atlantic City doesn’t embrace North Jersey gaming, regional gamblers will surely visit soon-to-be casinos in NY state, and the growing choices of gaming in Pennsylvania.

Jeffrey Gural submitted the following letter to ACprimetime:

Jeffrey Gural submitted the following letter to

Jeffrey Gural
Jeffrey Gural

I write this not as a casino operator, but as someone who loves harness racing and has dedicated a substantial portion of his time and money to saving the industry. I write this because, as dedicated as I am to saving the horse racing industry, so am I dedicated to saving and revitalizing Atlantic City. These two things, however, cannot happen unless voters approve the November ballot question that would expand gaming to northern New Jersey.

I have traveled to Atlantic City for various conferences and meetings, and I am always shocked but what I see.

A city with so much promise is overridden with depressed areas, especially near the Boardwalk. The new gaming competition across the state’s borders should have served as a wake-up call that Atlantic City needs to reinvent itself. Instead, the casino industry ignored the changing landscape and instead focused its efforts on preventing gaming expansion here in New Jersey with disastrous consequences.

In the last 10 years, New Jersey has lost $15 billion in gaming revenue to neighboring states. That $15 billion loss has hurt New Jersey dearly.

It has meant $1.8 billion lost for programs that help seniors and individuals with disabilities, all at a time when demand for these programs is higher than ever. That $1.8 billion has been made up by New Jersey taxpayers, and has meant less money for other programs such as pensions, transportation improvements, local aid and school funding.

The horse racing industry, which supports 14,000 jobs in New Jersey, also suffered.

Dollars meant to help keep the industry afloat instead had to be redirected to help struggling Atlantic City.


Because New Jersey does not support the industry in nearly the same manner as its neighbors, the profession has fallen on hard times. Gaming expansion would help save the industry and keep 14,000 of jobs from being lost.

It has certainly been a difficult time for Atlantic City, but it is not too late to get it back on the right track.

In November, voters can approve gaming expansion to northern New Jersey. This would in turn create two new entertainment and gaming destinations in the north that could generate $500 million per year in tax revenue for the state. For Atlantic City, it would mean an additional $200 million a year.

These dollars would help shift Atlantic City’s regional economy from one almost completely reliant on gaming to one based on tourism, entertainment and utilizing its greatest natural asset – the beach. The revenue could be used for economic development projects that could help revitalize the city’s tax base and increase the number of year-round residents. Spending on local infrastructure and development would help create local jobs in construction and provide opportunities for local businesses.

While it will not be accomplished overnight, shifting from an over reliance on gaming is certainly possible. We need look no further than Las Vegas. Despite its reputation as the gaming mecca of the country, if not the world, in 2015 just 35 percent of the revenue made in the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding area was from gaming. Instead, the city has been making its money from food, beverage, entertainment and booming tourism.

We can learn from Las Vegas to help fix Atlantic City.

Those who oppose gaming expansion must ask themselves three questions: Does Atlantic City need to rebuild in order to mimic the Vegas model; where would the money come from to accomplish this goal if not from gaming expansion; and how many jobs could be created with the $200 million a year that Atlantic City would get as a result of gaming expansion? If the referendum fails, New York will move on casinos and when it does, the last hope of Atlantic City recapturing hundreds of millions to rebuild will vanish. There simply will never be an opportunity this good for Atlantic City again.

Rather than launch campaigns against the effort, those currently opposing gaming expansion should be embracing it as their only true lifeline. For years, the residents of Atlantic City and the surrounding area had to hear promises of happy days being just around the corner. But there was never a concrete plan to achieve that. Now there is. We can still save Atlantic City and rebuild it into the jewel it was meant to be. That means voting yes on gaming expansion this November.

Jeffrey Gural is the chief of the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, and ‘racinos’; Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.