North Jersey casino advocate Jeff Gural referred to Atlantic City casino owners as “greedy pigs” while explaining why citizens should support the referendum to expand gaming and casinos, also calling Trenton legislators “stupid politicians.”
“These eight greedy pigs in Atlantic City combined is only giving us $200 million in state gaming tax revenues,” Gural said during a breakfast presentation to the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce at Winners, an off-track betting facility that he owns and operates (he also owns the Meadowlands Racetrack).
During his presentation, he also heavily criticized the state gaming tax rate in New Jersey. He first used New York state as an example, stating that $949 million of the state’s gaming revenue goes towards education.
The state gaming tax revenue in 2015 for New Jersey was only $230 million while Pennsylvania was over a $1 billion, Gural said during his remarks, illustrating his points with charts and graphs.
This was mainly due to the tax rate with Pennsylvania at 40.2 percent, compared to just 9.6 percent in New Jersey.
“What you have is that the casino industry in Atlantic City, basically takes the money that they make in Atlantic City and build casinos to compete with Atlantic City,” Gural exclaimed.
To prove his point, he used the 2015 revenue of Harrah’s Philadelphia, which was $287 million with gaming taxes at $125 million an the effective tax rate of 44 percent in 2015.
For Atlantic City, Caesars was at $330 million, Harrah’s was at $208 million and Bally’s was at $370 milion. While the total revenue of these three casino companies was a total of $908 million, the gaming taxes came out to only $85 million – due to the tax rate of 9.4 percent.
Referring to the two North Jersey casino bills presented by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) and state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) presented in December, Gural said he favored Sweeney’s plan.
“I begged the politicians, what’s his name, Sweeney was the only one who got it, him and [state Senator Paul] Sarlo (D-36). This legislation was designed to save Atlantic City, but they’re so stupid that they didn’t figure that out. And they’re so greedy. And the people listen to these stupid politicians that they have down there.”
“They draft a bill where 40 percent of the revenue that would pay in taxes would go to Atlantic City. We would estimate that at a bare minimum of $ 500 million worth of taxes,” Gural added.
This is based on an estimate involving putting a casino at the Meadowlands and Jersey City. Gural, along with billionaire Reebok founder Paul Fireman, were backing Our Turn NJ, a campaign pushing for North Jersey casinos.
However, they suspended their paid media campaign last month as New Jersey voters appeared firmly against the concept.
Estimated revenues for the two luxury resorts complex would be $200 million for the next 15 years and on then on the 16th year, payments from other New Jersey Casinos would cap at $20 million.
Gural made it very clear that no one will go to Atlantic City anymore because of the nearby competitors in New York and Pennsylvania, of which have the same owners as Caesars in Atlantic City.
“Anyone who is the casino business will tell you that the vast majority of their business come within 50 miles,” he said.
Caesars owns four of the 11 casinos in Atlantic City and opened a Harrah’s Casino and Racetrack in Chester, Pennsylvania which is only 70 miles away.
Gural admitted he doesn’t understand how a casino in Meadowlands, NJ, estimated at 120 miles away would be a problem for Atlantic City considering Harrah’s in Chester PA.
He closed the meeting by reminding Atlantic City that they certainly need to reinvent themselves because young kids will not travel just to play slots.
“Las Vegas has reinvented themselves, they are never going to reinvent themselves if they live in a city that’s bankrupt and you have to drive through the slum to get to the board walk … They have zero chance of reinventing themselves.”
Trenton’s Bad Bet, an anti-casino expansion group that launched in July, said in a media release this morning, prior to Gural’s appearance in Bayonne, said they were undeterred by the event.
“We will continue to ensure the voice of the majority of New Jersey voters who oppose gaming expansion is heard despite the thousands of dollars scattered around by billionaire developers,” Trenton’s Bad Bet Executive Director Bill Cortese said in a statement.
“Polling data has been very clear that likely voters across the state know this expansion is a bad deal for New Jersey families and oppose it.”