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Oceanport Council Says No To North Jersey Casino Referendum

OCEANPORT: With the November referendum that would allow two casinos to be built in North Jersey rapidly approaching, the Oceanport Council says it will not be voting yes this fall.

A Nov. 8 referendum question will ask residents if they would like to see casinos expand outside of Atlantic City, however Monmouth Park will not be one of the sites considered for a casino. The revenue that would be created from the new Jersey City and Meadowlands facilities would be shared with the Oceanport race track, bu Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace that percentage was originally slated to be higher for Monmouth Park.

"What Trenton has done, in their ultimate wisdom, is earmark a portion of the revenue from the casino in the Meadowlands to Monmouth Park, but unfortunately that percentage is two percent of a smaller percent," Irace said at the Aug. 18 Oceanport Council meeting. "They've effectively said, we'll give you a percentage of the revenue, about $2.5 million, and that's not nearly enough, and they are still looking for our support (for the referendum)."

He said he will be voting no unless he can see it changed in a way that the revenue sharing would be increased to support Monmouth Park.

Freeholder Thomas Arnone was also in attendance at the Aug. 18 meeting and said the county has taken the same stance.

With revenue and racing purses falling at Monmouth Park, which is Oceanport's largest taxpayer, Mayor Jay Coffey said the state has put the borough racetrack in a difficult situation.

"The state of new jersey is handicapping our ability to compete with other states," Coffey said.

Coffey said the "insane limitation that the state" placed on where the casinos would be allowed in relation to Atlantic City does not allow casino-style gambling at Monmouth Park, but would allow it on Route 36 in Hazlet, which does not have a racetrack or the infrastructure for a casino.

"You have a place that is built for gambling, gamblers go to it, it has a train station that can bring gamblers to it, it can hold up to 60,000 people, and the politicians in Trenton have said it makes so much money with racinos in Maryland, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania, but let's not do that," Coffey said.

Monmouth Park also recently received some bad news this month as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal of its ruling that prevented the state from implementing its sports betting law.

If sports wagering were allowed in the state, Monmouth Park would be one of the first places where residents could place a bet. In 2012, Monmouth Park, in anticipation of offering sports wagering, partnered with William Hill, a world leader in gaming, to create a state-of-the-art sportsbook at the racetrack.


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