By Freeholder Lillian G. Burry

Burry-Lillian-079The question of new casinos will be on the November ballot, and I believe it’s a good idea, but only if done the right way. Like any business, the casino industry needs to build on existing resources and use potential synergies to its advantage. This means taking advantage of existing betting sites. I’m talking about the racetracks – the Meadowlands, Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway. These tracks strike the perfect balance between the desires to expand gambling and keep it contained. The tracks are experienced in handling gambling and have everything from the technology to parking in place. These are the only places where we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and there’s more to it than that.

The people of New Jersey have made a clear commitment to farmland and open space preservation. A significant part of preserved farmland is committed to horse farms; many devoted to breeding and training horses that race at New Jersey racetracks. Adding casinos would be adding value to both the tracks and the casinos, giving each a competitive edge over venues in neighboring states that operate with one or the other along and strengthen both industries with a single action. That’s just good business.

By spreading out, the gaming industry will reach a wider audience, enabling it to grow. There should be a connection between existing casinos and the new ones, with new sites “comping” players with meals, shows and hotel stays in Atlantic City. This cooperative networking of the industry would draw people to Atlantic City and strengthen the industry as a whole. By placing casinos at the racetracks and linking them through rewards, the Atlantic City casinos would be reaching their target audience in the most effective way possible and could use the connection to showcase and promote events and other offerings.

As times change, industries must evolve if they want to survive. The gaming industry is in trouble now and sticking its collective head in the sands of Atlantic City won’t save it. The referendum is misguided. The answer should be to grow smarter and stronger while containing the growth and the way to do this will be found at the racetracks of New Jersey.

  • Lillian G. Burry is a Monmouth County Freeholder on the Board of Chosen Freeholders
Posted: September 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Casinos, Lillian Burry, Monmouth County, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »


  1. Robert Conklin said at 5:37 pm on September 9th, 2016:

    If I thought that these casinos would lower my taxes I’d be all for them. The revenue from these casinos will just go into a black hole never to be seen by the public.

  2. It's bad enough our casinos are seeing out of state competition... said at 6:46 pm on September 9th, 2016:

    They don’t need intra-state competiton!!

  3. No to the North Jersey Dems, said at 10:34 am on September 10th, 2016:

    and yes to placing slots in the racetracks, and, creating a cooperative east coast sports book in AC. The city itself has been given several chances to cutback its employees and budget, so the state needs to step in and manage them, till they learn some fiscal responsibility. The last thing AC needs is the more populous portion of this state taking away even more casino business. I agree the tracks and horse industry need help, but a three-way split of slot and sports betting at the tracks, (to the tracks, casinos and state,) could go a long way to a more positive approach to keeping and creating more jobs, not losing more of them, in beleaguered AC. I do not understand how NJ always seems to pick favorites,at the expense of something or someone else. Am also tired of the north Jersey Dems thinking they own the rest of us!

  4. Bob English said at 10:23 pm on September 10th, 2016:

    The legislation was specifically written to prohibit Monmouth Park from being able to compete on an even playing field with tracks in surrounding states by offering casino type gambling and the tiny percentage of revenue that might be shared with the horseracing industry is a drop in the bucket of what is needed. Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey’s letter below does a great job of explaining why he is voting NO….

    Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey’s Mayor’s message to Oceanport residents:

    In November, a ballot question will allow New Jersey’s voters the opportunity to decide whether or not gambling should be permitted outside of Atlantic City. Of course, as with all things coming out of Trenton, it’s really not that simple. First, and this may come as a big shock to our elected officials in Trenton, gambling is already permitted outside of Atlantic City. Neighboring states like New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware all have legalized gambling venues. Second, the ballot initiative only allows for gambling SO LONG AS IT TAKES PLACE 72 MILES (as the crow flies) FROM ATLANTIC CITY. Guess how far Monmouth Park is from Atlantic City? About 70 miles. That’s right, the legislation might as well read “gambling shall be legal outside of Atlantic City except for Monmouth Park” because that is the obvious intent. Third, the proposed legislation only allows for two casinos to be built and those casinos have to be built in two different counties, neither of which are named. Notwithstanding the fact that neither county is named, news articles have already confirmed that both Jersey City (Hudson) and East Rutherford (Bergen) are the proposed and favored casino sites. By the way, Jersey City and East Rutherford are only 13 miles apart! Fourth, like all things coming out of Trenton, the details on how the money generated by these casinos is going to be distributed are almost impossible to understand and the number of hands in the money pie is probably greater than the number of available slices.

    New Jersey’s monopoly on the East Coast gambling dollar ended a decade ago and the successful business model for both the racing and casino industries is up and running in each and every one of the states surrounding New Jersey. Simply stated, other states have gaming facilities at racetracks and New Jersey doesn’t. (Thanks, Mick Seeley!) Instead of emulating what these states are doing (smaller, numerous, more conveniently located venues with multi-faceted revenue streams), our state legislators have decided to double down on the business model (Atlantic City’s) that isn’t working and they want to do it on a grand scale.
    Given Trenton’s unparalleled track record for spectacular failures when it comes to spending our money on almost any scale, I think it is now time that we impose the “George Costanza Opposite” rule on our state legislators.

    In this case, applying the rule — “if every instinct Trenton has is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right” — would result in gambling being legalized only in places WITHIN 72 miles of Atlantic City. That would permit gambling at Monmouth Park, a smaller, conveniently located, self-contained venue with a proven record of serving the public’s gaming and entertainment needs. One that has plenty of parking, offers its own NJ Transit stop and has beautiful, EXISTING facilities that can easily accommodate casino gaming or slot machines. How about we see if that works first and then expand northward in a controlled, orderly fashion? Or does that make too much sense? At the very least, the 72 mile limitation should be reduced to allow Monmouth Park, Monmouth County and Central Jersey to benefit from the proposed expansion.

    If this legislation were a horse race, Hudson County is Secretariat, Bergen County is Seattle Slew and Monmouth County is Mr. Ed. The good part about that is Mr. Ed can talk. But nobody in Trenton (with the exception of Declan O’Scanlon who, I must say, has been fighting the good fight on behalf of Oceanport, Monmouth Park and all the other stakeholders on this issue from the beginning) is going to listen to the rantings of a small town Mayor like me. But they will listen if they hear the voices of the 5900+ residents of Oceanport and residents of surrounding communities who will be impacted if Monmouth Park continues to struggle against out of state competitors.

    To that end, I implore you to call or e-mail Senator Joseph Kyrillos, Jr. at 732-671-3206 or [email protected], Senator Jennifer Beck at 732-933-1591 or [email protected], Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin at 732-383-7820 or [email protected], Assemblyman Declan J. O’Scanlon at 732-933-1591 or [email protected], Assemblywoman Joann Downey at 732-333-0166 or [email protected] and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling at 732-333-0166 or [email protected] and tell them that you are going to vote “NO” this November if Monmouth Park is excluded from this legislation and from being able to compete on a level playing field with race tracks in surrounding states. Call or write as often as you like. They need to hear from us.

    Anybody up for a town bus ride to Trenton? Bring a friend, pack a lunch and we’ll make a day of it. Let’s talk about it at Summer’s End!