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Big M Focused On Expansion

Published: November 13, 2015 1:02 pm ET

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Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural has called on the industry to support the East Rutherford, NJ raceway, and has stated that his group is very focused on getting a question on the 2016 ballot that would ask voters to support expanded gaming in the state.

Gural’s comments have come via an update to industry via an open letter. The release was sent out on the same day that ‘The Mecca of Harness Racing’ was kicking off its new meet of live racing.

The letter explains how the iconic harness track has ramped up its marketing campaigns, which, most notably, has seen a large video sign in midtown Manhattan at 49th Street and 7th Avenue.

Even though the Meadowlands is going full bore in its marketing and promotion of the new meet, Gural and his squad are stressing the importance of the ballot question next year.

“We are currently focused on having a referendum placed on the ballot in 2016 that would allow for gambling outside of Atlantic City, at which point, we would then bid on what is likely to be two or three licenses,” Gural was quoted as saying.

Details of the proposed Meadowlands Racetrack expansion were unveiled earlier this summer, and Gural discussed the plans specifically just a few days later.

In his letter, Gural went on to say that “while there is no assurance that we would win in polling, the only location that the voters are supportive of is the Meadowlands and because we could convert over to a casino so quickly we believe we have an advantage over any other possible bidders.”

Gural explained some of the process regarding how such a ballot question would become reality, and that is via a bill.

“We hope to have this legislation passed in early January so that we have as much time as possible to put a campaign together to try to get the measure approved by the voters in November,” he said.

The contents of Gural’s open letter appear below.


Meadowlands Update

As the new season begins we believe this is the most pivotal in the history of Standardbred racing at the Meadowlands. It is quite obvious that without the benefit of alternative gambling it is very difficult for the Meadowlands to compete with tracks in New York and Pennsylvania for horses and for the breeders in New Jersey to compete as well. We are currently focused on having a referendum placed on the ballot in 2016 that would allow for gambling outside of Atlantic City, at which point, we would then bid on what is likely to be two or three licenses. While there is no assurance that we would win in polling, the only location that the voters are supportive of is the Meadowlands and because we could convert over to a casino so quickly we believe we have an advantage over any other possible bidders. We hope to have this legislation passed in early January so that we have as much time as possible to put a campaign together to try to get the measure approved by the voters in November. Preliminary estimates are that a campaign of this nature costs between $15 Million - $30 Million depending on how much opposition arises. We are asking for the support of all owners, drivers and trainers as we believe it is critical to build momentum heading towards this crucial vote. We need to show the value of the Meadowlands to the people of New Jersey by helping us put on competitive racing with full fields and as many people in the grandstand as possible. We have built a beautiful facility with excellent customer service and excellent food provided by ARK Restaurant. Hopefully when your horses are racing you will come rather than watching on a computer and enjoy spending the evening in Trotters and bring some friends along who might possibly get interested in becoming owners as well. It is clear that if we are going to have a successful breeding business we need to find young people to purchase yearlings as those like myself are gradually slowing down.

In an effort to promote standardbred racing here, The Meadowlands has spent $1.5 Million in marketing in 2015 and will spend another $1.5 Million in 2016. Right now, evidence of these expenses can be seen all over the New Jersey and New York City areas, including on the New Jersey Turnpike, inbound and outbound at the Lincoln Tunnel, and a large video sign in midtown Manhattan at 49th Street and 7th Avenue.

We believe that The Meadowlands has established itself as the industry leader in promoting and marketing harness racing including our out of competition drug testing program and we ask that in return, owners, drivers and trainers support the Meadowlands in this most important racing season. Thank you and hope to see you in Trotters as the season progresses.

Sincerely,
Jeff Gural



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