Meadowlands Racetrack boss Jeff Gural has never been one to keep quiet.
During the past year, his support of the North Jersey casino referendum was pointed, outspoken and unafraid of confrontation. Despite his best efforts to take down the Atlantic City machine, the referendum failed in a lop-sided fashion. It left Gural wondering if he would ever get a casino at his upstate track. a hope he still harbors.
Gural refuses to quit on casinos
This past week he made it clear during a meeting with the Press of Atlantic City that he’s not backing down from his desire to open a casino at his property.
He went as far as to call Atlantic City a “shame.”
“I made some calls to some casino people, and they said Atlantic City is done and will not recover,” Gural said. “The competition is just too great at this time and everyone knows that. I love Atlantic City, but it’s a shame, it’s a slum.”
This isn’t the first time Gural dropped a “slum” bomb on Jersey’s gambling mecca. This past year, he said visitors have to drive through a slum to get to the Boardwalk.
Gural isn’t the first to call Atlantic City ‘a slum’
Quoting the director of the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling, the Sun wrote, “Atlantic City was a slum 15 years ago, and today it’s a slum with 12 casinos.”
Referendum opposition not buying the bitterness
Gural’s main argument is that the protection of Atlantic City’s exclusive gambling rights will ultimately erode the city’s livelihood until it’s a ghost town where customers up north go elsewhere to gamble.
While Gural has a flair for riling up the opposition, he has a point. New casinos are popping up everywhere except New Jersey. Gamblers who could stay in-state are crossing the border to Pennsylvania or New York, and taking their gambling money with them.
However, Atlantic City diehards refuse to let the gloomy landscape stop them from protecting the city from perceived slander.
Bill Cortese, a leader in the referendum opposition, told the Press of AC that Gural is just up to his old tricks again. Cortese pointed out that the voters have spoken. Gural and his pals are “trying to circumvent the will of the people,” Cortese insists.
Had the referendum passed, Gural would have partnered with Hard Rock International to build a 650,000-square-foot casino on his property. For now, the feisty businessman will just have to sit and wait. Atlantic City’s exclusive gambling rights won’t disappear anytime soon.