WHITE FLAG: Financiers of pro-casino expansion effort suspend media campaign

By The Staff | The Save Jersey Blog

TRENTON, N.J. — ‘Our Turn NJ’ (a 501c4 public issue advocacy campaign) was driven by its primary financiers — Paul Fireman and Jeff Gural, the men who want to build new casinos in North Jersey — in an effort to win passage for a ballot question this November.

That question would amend the state constitution and permit gaming beyond Atlantic City.

The voters weren’t buying it.

Concept art for the proposed Meadowlands-based Hard Rock Casino
Concept art for the proposed Meadowlands-based Hard Rock Casino

Now the financiers are done putting their own money behind buying new ads.

Fireman and Gural issued a surprise joint release on Thursday afternoon, obtained by Save Jersey, announcing the suspension of their effort’s media campaign.

“We believe deeply that gaming expansion to Northern New Jersey is a remarkable opportunity that should not be squandered,” noted the pair. “We have committed $4 billion in private investment to this state to create world class resort destinations with gaming. The benefits include 43,000 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in recaptured revenue — a rare opportunity for New Jersey.  In addition, as New York debates allowing gaming in New York City, it is critical that we beat them to market or risk losing this opportunity permanently.”

“The data, however, speaks for itself,” they continued. “The current political climate in New Jersey and voters’ concerns about the lack of details relating to the effort have proved overwhelming.”

Gural has donated thousands to N.J. politicians in recent years including Democrat Senate President and North Jersey casino booster Steve Sweeney.

A recent public poll found only 35% in favor of the ballot question while 58 percent disapproved.

Today’s news represents a major setback for the Trenton establishment, a group including Governor Chris Christie (R) and Senate President Steve Sweeney, which expressed bipartisan support for the wildly unpopular measure.