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NORTH JERSEY CASINO BACKERS TO TAKE QUESTIONS AT BAYONNE FORUM

NJ.com

-- Jonathan Lin, The Jersey Journal

MANALAPAN, NJ -- October 11, 2016 -- One of two businessmen leading a group that is fighting to bring casinos to North Jersey is slated to discuss the issue at an open forum in Bayonne on Oct. 19.

Jeff Gural, who runs the Meadowlands Racetrack, is expected to deliver remarks in support of the cause at another venue he owns: the Winners off-track betting facility at 400 Route 440 North.

The 8:30 a.m. forum, which is being organized by the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce, has been billed by the chamber as an opportunity to "hear the facts behind all of the press and publicity."

Attendees will be able to pose questions to Gural as well as Jason Settlemoir, the general manager of Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners, according to the chamber.

On Nov. 8, New Jersey voters will decide a ballot question asking them whether to allow two casinos to be built in the northern part of the state. If the effort passes, it would mark the first time gambling halls would be permitted outside of Atlantic City since they debuted there in 1978, NJ Advance Media reported.

Late last month, Gural and Paul Fireman — the businessmen who launched "Our Turn NJ," a group lobbying voters to approve expanding casino gambling — announced that they had suspended the group's advertising campaign.

The group cited polling showing that the referendum is anticipated to fail, including a Rutgers-Eagleton poll that showed 58 percent of voters disapprove, while 35 percent approve, NJAM reported.

The forum slated for Oct. 19 will take place in the same city that employs a staunch opponent of the gambling expansion.

Bayonne Law Director Jay Coffey has been an outspoken critic of the proposal in his capacity as the mayor of Oceanport, which is home to the historic Monmouth Park Racetrack.

If approved, the proposed legislation would allow two gambling houses or casinos to be established in New Jersey, as long as those casinos are in separate counties and more than 72 miles away from Atlantic City.

Unfortunately for Monmouth Park, which has been unsuccessfully lobbying for permission to house casino-style gaming and sports wagering in recent years, Oceanport sits just inside that 72-mile radius, at a distance of approximately 70 miles.

Oceanport's exclusion — among other reasons — had its officials urging voters to vote against the plan.

Registration/breakfast for the Oct. 19 forum at Winners is scheduled to run from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., with the program at 8:30 a.m.

All online registrants will be admitted free of charge, but online registration ends on Oct. 15. Non-online registrants have to pay $5 at the door if they are a member of the chamber; non-members pay $10 at the door.
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