As public opinion turns, pro-Jersey City casino effort suspends campaign

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As the general public opinion in New Jersey appears to have turned against expanding casino gaming to the northern part of the state, a pro-Jersey City casino effort has suspended their paid media campaign.

A rendering of the potential Liberty Rising hotel and casino by Friedmutter Group Architects.
A rendering of the potential Liberty Rising hotel and casino by Friedmutter Group Architects.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The current political climate in New Jersey and voters’ concerns about the lack of details relating to the effort have proved overwhelming,” Paul Fireman and Jeff Gural, the business entrepreneurs behind Our Turn NJ, said in a statement.

“Even knowing that an out-of-country gaming company that sends New Jerseyans’ gaming dollars to Malaysia is funding opposition ads does not have impact. As such, with great reluctance we have suspended the paid media component of the statewide campaign.”

Fireman is the billionaire founder of Reebok and Gural is a successful New York real estate developer.

The duo recently launched the Our Turn NJ campaign, advocating for a 90-story luxury casino complex known as Liberty Rising. The project would be a $4 billion investment that would potentially create “6,000 resort operation jobs.”

The state-of-the-art facility was aiming for a location at 100 Caven Point Road, south of Liberty State Park between and industrial area and the Liberty National Golf Course.

The Friends of Liberty State Park, a non-profit group that supports the preservation of the Jersey City landmark, just came out against the plan largely due to traffic concerns.

The group cited that Mayor Steven Fulop, an expected Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has stressed that local voters will decide what direction the city moves in next.

Fulop’s remarks came in March after publicly advocating for a local casino back in January.

Likely more important from Our Turn NJ’s perspective was that a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released on Tuesday, where 50 percent of state voters believe casino gambling should remain limited to Atlantic City, while 40 percent called for a gambling expansion.

When asked the casino expansion question exactly as it appears on the November 8 ballot, only 35 percent of voters approved of the proposal.

Trenton’s Bad Bet, a group against expanding casino gaming to North Jersey that launched in July, did not respond to the criticism from Our Turn NJ, instead continuing to stress that there are far more pressing issues in the state.

“Trenton’s Bad Bet will not be distracted by billionaire developers throwing temper tantrums because they don’t get what they want. The casino expansion referendum otherwise known as Question One will hurt New Jersey families costing the state tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic losses,” TBB Executive Director Bill Cortese said in a statement.

“Trenton politicians need to focus on doing their jobs starting with addressing the bankrupt transportation fund, properly funding school districts, meeting their pension obligations and addressing rising property taxes. It is past time to focus on meeting promises to New Jersey citizens instead of placating special interests with yet another bail out.”