Bill introduced to put northern New Jersey casinos on 2016 ballot

casino_gamesHACKENSACK, N.J. — A casino could open in the Meadowlands sports and entertainment complex outside New York City as soon as 2017 if New Jersey voters approve a referendum next November allowing for two casinos in the northern part of the state. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, announced Friday that he has introduced legislation that… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: December 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: New Jersey | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bill introduced to put northern New Jersey casinos on 2016 ballot

Behind the Izod Closure: More Questions Than Answers in the Meadowlands

With its glory days long gone and its future up for grabs, the fate of the Izod Center has become an open question. After years of study and debate, officials suddenly took action in January — shuttering the 34-year old state-owned arena with barely two weeks warning and shifting much of its business to the privately… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: June 17th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Christie Administration, New Jersey | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Behind the Izod Closure: More Questions Than Answers in the Meadowlands

Izod Center shutdown may take longer than expected

The Izod Center is being shut down, but several events, including the Ringling Bros. circus, will keep the lights on through March. (Mitsu Yasukawa | The Star- Ledger)

The Izod Center is being shut down, but several events, including the Ringling Bros. circus, will keep the lights on through March. (Mitsu Yasukawa | The Star- Ledger)

EAST RUTHERFORD — It began with Bruce. It apparently will end with elephants and clowns. The last act of the Izod Center will be the circus. State officials, who last week announced the closing of the aging arena in the Meadowlands by the end of the month, say they are working to move the remaining events… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: January 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: New Jersey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Izod Center shutdown may take longer than expected

FDU Poll: Most in New Jersey oppose casinos outside of Atlantic City

clip-art-casino-246334A majority of New Jersey residents oppose expanding legalized gambling in the State beyond the borders of Atlantic City, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson Public Mind Poll released this morning.  50 percent oppose casinos outside of AC. 42 percent favor expanding gambling venues in New Jersey.

Men favor casinos elsewhere in the State by a small margin, 48-46, while women are opposed , 53-36.  Young adults aged 18-34 are in favor of gambling venues outside of AC, 52-38.  Those aged 35-50 are opposed, 53-41 and those over 60 are opposed by a 56-36 margin.

Of the 819 respondents, those who have been to Atlantic City within the last 12 months are most likely to favor casinos elsewhere in New Jersey, by a 52-35 margin.  Those who have been to casinos elsewhere but not in AC favor new gaming halls in New Jersey by a much narrower margin, 47-45.  Those who have not been to a casino in the last 12 month are opposed to expanding gambling in NJ by 45-40.

When asked if they favored expanding to the Meadowlands or Monmouth Park in Oceanport, the Meadowlands was favored.  Respondents favored opening casinos in the Meadowlands by a 47-45 margin.  They opposed casino gambling at Monmouth Park by narrow 44-43 margin.

The margin of error of the poll is +/- 3.4%

Posted: August 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Atlantic City, Casinos, FDU Public Mind Poll, Monmouth County, Oceanport | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on FDU Poll: Most in New Jersey oppose casinos outside of Atlantic City

Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace’s remarks to the Assembly Regulartory Oversight and Gaming Committee, July 19, 2012

Chairman Ramos, and members of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, thank you for inviting me to speak before you today on this

important topic. I am Oceanport Councilman Joseph Irace.


When the State of New Jersey voted to allow casino gambling in Atlantic City in 1976, it marked the dawn of an era wherein, for close to a decade and a half, New Jersey had a de facto monopoly on casino gambling on the East Coast.  That era ended in 1992 with the advent of  Foxwoods Resort Casino.  In the years since then, we have seen a steady encroachment upon Atlantic City’s position as the premier East Coast destination for casino type gambling.  New York, Connecticut, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland now offer substantial gaming options to the general public. Indeed, as of April of 2012, Pennsylvania’s gaming industry was second only to that of Las Vegas. Quite clearly, the landscape has changed immeasurably since 1976 and New Jersey’s stranglehold on the East Coast gaming industry is no more.  This isn’t an Atlantic City gaming industry problem, it is a New Jersey business development and retention problem.


Similarly, three decades ago, the State of New Jersey was a pre-eminent player in the horseracing industry.  The Meadowlands, Freehold Raceway, Monmouth Park, Atlantic City Race Course and Garden State Park — the latter three called the “Golden Triangle” of New Jersey racing — all offered top notch, stakes level horse racing at quality venues.  As we are all aware, the New Jersey horseracing industry has suffered setbacks over the past few decades and the root of these setbacks can be traced to the same source as that which has negatively impacted on Atlantic City.  New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia have all committed to the Racino business model and this has placed the State of New Jersey’s horseracing industry at a decided disadvantage.  Again, this isn’t a horseracing industry problem, it is a New Jersey business development and retention problem.


For far too long now, New Jersey’s gaming industry and New Jersey’s horse racing industry circled each other warily as opponents.  It is high time that they stop viewing each other as competitors and start viewing themselves as comrades at arms with a singular purpose: melding both industries in such a fashion that New Jersey once again becomes the East Coast’s premier gaming AND horse racing destination.  Based on the revenues generated by Racinos in the surrounding states and across the nation, the question of whether or not these two industries can co-exist, and indeed THRIVE, is no longer arguable.  Quite simply, if New Jersey’s gaming and horse-racing industries fail to embrace this new business model, both will perish and the State of New Jersey will be lesser for it.


Our elected officials and both industries need to stop thinking parochially and start thinking globally.  The infrastructure, manpower and talent are already in place.  We just need the desire and commitment to get this done, and get it done sooner rather than later.  The State of New Jersey has waited long enough to get its act together.  The states that have already embraced the Racino business model have demonstrated that what is good for the horseracing industry is good for the gaming industry and vice versa.  More importantly, what’s good for those industries is also good for all of New Jersey. 


I implore our legislators to make every effort to convince these two parties that it is imperative that they stop competing with each other and start complementing each other in order to re-capture the hearts, minds and loyalty of their consumers. If the gaming and horse racing industries fail to adapt to the new paradigm, neither will survive.  And that won’t be a gaming or horse racing problem — that will be a tragedy for the State of New Jersey.

Posted: July 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Atlantic City, Casinos, Horse Racing Industry, Joe Irace, Meadowlands, Monmouth Park, NJ State Legislature, Oceanport, Racinos | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Hometown Solutions: Irace On Monmouth Park, Gaming and Fort Monmouth

Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace sat down with William Richards, Director of New Media at The Hall Institute for Public Policy as part of the institute’s Hometown Solutions series.

William and Joe discuss Monmouth Park racetrack, Fort Monmouth, the challenges Oceanport has faced in recent years with uncertainty for both institutions, and what looks like a promising comeback for Monmouth Park.


Posted: July 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Atlantic City, Fort Monmouth, Hall Institute for Public Policy-NJ, Horse Racing Industry, Joe Irace, Monmouth Park, Oceanport | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

WrestleMania Coming To New Jersey

WestleMania XXIX will be held at MetLife Stadium in April 2013. Photo/Graphic: WWE.com

WestleMania XXIX will be held at MetLife Stadium in April 2013. Photo/Graphic: WWE.com

New Jersey will be the host of WrestleMania XXIX in April of 2013.

Governor Chris Christie, “The Rock,” NFL owners John Mara and Woody Johnson and WWE CEO Vince McMahon will announce the event at a press conference this morning at MetLife Stadium.

Posted: February 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: WrestleMania | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Suckers Bet or Sure Thing? Give The Meadowlands A Slot

By Joe Irace, Oceanport Councilman

The latest Atlantic City Rescue Plan by the State of New Jersey for all intents and purposes,  ensures a slow and painful death by a thousand cuts to New Jersey’s horse racing industry all so that our elected officials in Trenton are both blinded and mesmerized by the bright shiny lights of Atlantic City.  The political machine is fond of trumpeting the tired old canard that New Jersey’s racing industry is dying.  They tell this big lie over and over again in the hope that by sheer repetition it will become the truth, all the while purposely ignoring the politically inconvenient fact that Atlantic City’s gambling industry is not dying, but is actually dead and has been so for quite some time. 

This proposed plan ignores the most obvious socially and fiscally responsible solution: allowing for the installation of video lottery terminals, slot machines or a gaming casino at the Meadowlands. 

Why does the State continue to ignore this solution?  Because a great number of our unelected officials, entrenched bureaucrats and political power brokers in Trenton, rather than deal with the realities attendant to the success of the introduction of video lottery terminals or casinos at racetracks in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, have decided that the State of New Jersey is going to get into the business of subsidizing the failed business model that is Atlantic City.  Some of the most shrewd and brilliant businessmen in the world couldn’t sustain the Atlantic City business model, yet Trenton’s powers that be are supremely confident that they are up to the task, the rest of the State of New Jersey be damned. And, quite frankly, why shouldn’t they be confident what with the tremendous success they’ve had over the past two decades with the revitalization of Camden, Newark and Paterson, the Xanadu Project, the School Construction Corporation,  Abbott Districts, pension funding, budget balancing and the recent Race to the Top Application?

As evidenced by the success of gaming sites in Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania, the residents of the tri-state area are more than willing to forego the bucolic vistas offered by a ride down the N.J. Turnpike and Garden State Parkway and the urban “charm” of Atlantic City in favor of more convenient gambling venues. Notwithstanding the fact that the two most interested parties, the horsemen and the general public, are clamoring for a casino at the Meadowlands facility, the State dismisses the idea out of hand in favor of a proposal that provides neither party with what it wants.

 Two reports by Christiansen Capital Advisors, commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Treasury, recommended the installation of slot machines at the Meadowlands. The reports stated that 5,000 machines at the Meadowlands would produce $750 million annually and that 10,000 machines would produce $1.5 billion annually. The same study suggested that 2,100 slots at the Meadowlands would reduce Atlantic City gross gaming revenue by .01 percent. 

Senator Sean Kean recently said on the New Jersey Senate floor “if it (a Racino at the Meadowlands) were put to a vote we’d probably get a majority, if not a super-majority (in support), to save horse racing in the state of New Jersey.”  Despite the overwhelming financial benefits flowing from such an arrangement, Trenton summarily dismisses the installation of Video Lottery Terminals, slot machines or a gaming casino in the Meadowlands in what can only be interpreted as a yet another deferential bow to Atlantic City’s political power brokers.

Given the fact that over the past decade or so New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware have destroyed Atlantic City’s monopoly on East Coast gaming, one would think that our friends in Trenton would have enough sense to fight fire with fire and move quickly towards the racino business model.  Unless, of course, maybe our Atlantic City-centric friends from Trenton don’t want to move quickly because if they wait long enough for the racing industry to finally die, then they won’t have to share profits with anybody.  How much would you like to wager that, after years of categorically denying the financial benefits of allowing gambling outside of Atlantic City, our friends in Trenton will have a sudden about face on the issue once the horsemen have been forced from the Meadowlands?

Trenton refuses to acknowledge the viability of the racino model and, instead, continues to dump on our horse racing industry and the 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape which come along with it. Racinos around the country employ nearly 30,000 people. Bringing racinos to New Jersey will create thousands of new jobs. Additionally, it will solidify many jobs that may be in danger of leaving our state in favor of states that have already authorized racino legsilation. Racinos are a proven model that states around the country are turning to for gaming. Twelve states have already implemented racinos and many more are debating proposals to allow them in the near future. In 2009, racinos around the country generated $2.6 billion dollars in tax revenue for state and local governments. Additionally, they strengthen the state’s agricultural industry. Racinos allow existing racetracks to grow their purses, spurring new investments in breeding racehorse ownership throughout the state. Additional racehorses will create more jobs and improve the overall economic impact. As Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and the nine other racino states can attest – racinos improve the rural economy.  But the health and well being of our state’s rural economy does not seem to be of paramount importance to the movers and shakers in Trenton.  Why should they spend a few million dollars to shore up and promote a proven, historically viable and stable commodity like horseracing, when instead they can throw HUNDREDS of millions of taxpayer money at a financial and social corpse like Atlantic City?

Racinos are a sure thing.  Rushing with reckless financial abandon into the resurrection of Atlantic City is a sucker’s bet.  Sure thing. Sucker’s bet. Sure thing. Suckers bet.  Which one will our friends in Trenton take? If left to their own devices, I think we all know that our friends in Trenton will take the sucker’s bet every time.  And since our friends in Trenton will be spending our tax dollars trying to raise the corpse that is Atlantic City and its gaming industry, we, the taxpayers, are the suckers. And we really are suckers if we let them do this without giving them a fight. I say that we bring the fight to them. Let’s do everything we can to get this matter to a vote of the New Jersey Legislature as soon as possible!

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Atlantic City, Horse Racing Industry, Meadowlands | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Suckers Bet or Sure Thing? Give The Meadowlands A Slot

One Meadowlands Racetrack Union Imperils Deal to Save Standardbred Racing

Governor Expresses Grave Concern Over Union Inaction and Consequences

Trenton, NJ – Governor Chris Christie today called Thursday’s inaction by the union representing the mutuel clerks at Meadowlands Racetrack on a proposal from prospective track operator Jeff Gural a potentially fatal obstacle to continuing racing operations at the East Rutherford facility.


In the face of unsustainable racetrack losses, and the recognition that jobs and livelihoods could nonetheless be saved, substantial progress had been made to save standardbred racing in negotiations with Mr. Gural. That progress included the overwhelming acceptance by another racetrack union of new contract provisions.  


Said Governor Christie: “Apparently, one group has decided on its own to put at risk the livelihoods of many others. We were patient and accommodating, but these deadlines for achieving self-sustaining horse racing are very real.  This is an unfortunate outcome to say the least.” 


The failure of Local 137 to vote will trigger the following consequences, which Local 137 was keenly aware would occur: Live racing at the Meadowlands Racetrack will not resume on May 7 as previously scheduled. Meadowlands simulcasting will cease as of May 12. Racetrack employees were issued notices March 8 of potential layoffs as required by law, and absent a vote by Local 137, those layoffs will commence on May 12, the first date for which the legal cessation of all operations at the racetrack can now occur.


Posted: April 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Horse Racing Industry, Press Release | Tags: , , | 7 Comments »