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Gural: Big M Casino "Is Inevitable"

Published: July 19, 2012 9:25 am ET

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On Tuesday, July 17, Meadowlands Racetrack Operator Jeff Gural appeared on 'NJ Today' with host Mike Schneider and explained that he has been in talks with an established gaming company in regard to the topic of expanded gaming at the Meadowlands.

"I think it is inevitable that you will see casino gambling (at the Meadowlands)," Gural said. "I would be lying if I [didn't say] one of my motivations for doing this (taking over the Meadowlands Racetrack) was that I think there will be casino gambling at some point."

When asked if he would partner with an existing gaming company, Gural said that he would, and has discussed the issue with an unnamed party.

After directly saying that he has already had discussions with an existing gaming company, Gural stated that he has just had discussions with one company, and that "We're working on something."

Gural did point out that, at this point, there's no way of telling whether the Meadowlands will get the green light for a casino any time soon, but he did mention that he is a "numbers guy" and that he believes that gaming expansion at the Meadowlands --- not a resort casino like what is in Atlantic City --- "would probably generate more tax revenue than all of the casinos combined if things went right."

He went on to state that he understands and respects the fact that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to give Atlantic City a shot at improving its current situation via a revamped and concentrated gaming push, but that, at the same time, "Nobody would want to see people (New Jersey residents) just drive over the George Washington Bridge (and go) outside of New Jersey and lose money in New York."

Making sure to differentiate his plans for the Meadowlands from what is going on in AC, Gural re-stated that he thinks expanded gaming coming to the Meadowlands "is inevitable" and went on to directly say that the Meadowlands would not be "competing with Atlantic City --- they are a resort, and we would just build a destination casino."

Early Thursday morning, Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Chairman Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. announced his committee will hold a July 19 hearing to discuss the prospect of bringing casino gaming to the Meadowlands.

The Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee will meet on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at noon in the Hambletonian Room at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford. The committee will hear testimony from invited speakers on the prospect of gaming at the Meadowlands.

"We need to at least discuss the potential for casino-style gaming in North Jersey and its potential to create jobs and economic growth and position New Jersey's gaming industry to better compete against other states," said Ramos (D-Hudson). "Ignoring the fact the out-of-state competition exists is foolhardy. Expanding gaming options to the Meadowlands could strengthen New Jersey against that competition that has already lured customers away. Any option to bring additional revenue and create jobs deserves careful consideration, and this is where the discussion starts."

"The reality is that Atlantic City is losing many of its North Jersey customers to newly-opened casinos in Pennsylvania and New York," said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), a member of the panel and longtime advocate of expanding gaming to North Jersey. "We ignore that fact at own peril. Pennsylvania recently surpassed New Jersey to become the second-largest casino market in the country behind Las Vegas. Bringing gaming to the Meadowlands can help us reclaim the market and bring back much-needed revenue to New Jersey. Starting this discussion is common sense."

No bills will be considered at the hearing, but Caputo is sponsoring legislation (ACR53) asking voters whether to amend the state Constitution to allow the establishment and operation of casinos in Bergen County.

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