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Gural Open To New Casino Partner

Published: January 18, 2016 1:03 pm ET

Last Comment: January 20, 2016 10:42 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Jeff Gural has said that he would be interested in partnering with a current Atlantic City casino operator if that is what is needed in order for him to secure a licence for casino gaming at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Early last week, the New Jersey Senate passed casino legislation that would see two casino licences introduced for the northern part of the state, thus breaking the casino monopoly that Atlantic City in the south has held. The bill is still being mulled by politicians. If ultimately passed, the legislation would result in a question on this fall’s ballot. The question would ask New Jersey voters if they approve of casino gaming outside of Atlantic City, which would end up being in the northern end of the state. If the vote is in favour of the casino expansion, the constitution would be re-written to reflect the change in policy.

The legislation does include the caveat which stipulates that casino operators that are currently in business in Atlantic City will get the first right of refusal when it comes to running casinos in the northern end of the state. That caveat has forced Gural to alter his expansion plans.

Last summer, the Meadowlands Racetrack and Hard Rock unveiled their proposed expansion plans for the East Rutherford raceway. Given the new wrinkle in the legislation, Gural has now said that he is willing to bring one of the current AC casino operators on board in order to secure a casino at his racetrack.

“I think I could find a way to work with one of the casino companies in Atlantic City to put a bid in,” Gural has been quoted as saying in an article by The Wall Street Journal. “Would I prefer that that wasn’t the requirement? Obviously.”

The article also points out another interesting aspect of the bill. An initial version of the legislation gave potential bidders up to six months in order to submit bids. An amended version of the bill has shrunk that window substantially. Bidders will now have to get their ducks in a row and have their proposals submitted within 60 days.

Gural has said that, given the new terms, his Meadowlands proposal would still include Hard Rock, but would recruit a current AC casino operator. The operator would help fund a public campaign to persuade voters to support expansion when and if ballot-time comes.

The Wall Street Journal article states that Gural has already approached Resorts Atlantic City owner Morris Bailey. Gural has said that Bailey is “interested.”

The legislation will require approval from three-fifths of both legislative chambers before it has a chance of appearing on the fall ballot. The bill will have to be passed by August in order to reach the ballot.

(With files from The Wall Street Journal)

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