New York Casino Operator Predicts North Jersey Casino As A Result Of NYC Casinos

Written By David Danzis on April 22, 2024 - Last Updated on May 1, 2024
Exterior image of Meadowlands Racetrack for a story on downstate New York casinos potentially leading to a New Jersey casino in East Rutherford

A real estate developer directly involved with two New York state gambling facilities says casinos in the Big Apple will ultimately lead to a New Jersey casino in the northern part of the state.

While the topic du jour during last week’s East Coast Gaming Congress at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City was three impending New York City-area casinos and their collective impact on the World’s Playground, a South Jersey gambling boogeyman rose from the dead.

Without provocation, North Jersey casinos became a topic of conversation after years of being dormant.

Jeff Gural, the operator of Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, told the Associated Press that he believes the Garden State will eventually have casino gambling outside Atlantic City. And it will be because of New York City casinos. Gural predicts that a North Jersey casino would most likely wind up at the Meadowlands.

NY casino operator says this time will be different

In 2016, NJ voters overwhelmingly opposed the expansion of legal casino gambling beyond Atlantic City. A ballot referendum in November of that year failed by a 77% to 23% vote.

Ever the opportunist, Gural, who says he has a standing agreement with Hard Rock International for a Meadowlands casino, is proposing a new reason NJ voters will have a change of heart.

Unsurprisingly, it revolves around New York City, which could have as many as three full-integrated casino resorts within the next few years. Many expect NY online casinos could soon follow, and land-based operators would likely have the inside track to the billion-dollar digital gambling market.

“I’m just waiting for New York to open,” Gural told the Associated Press.

“People will say, ‘Why am I driving over the George Washington Bridge and paying an $18 toll and sitting in traffic to go gamble?’”

Yes, NYC casinos are coming, but not for over a year

American Racing & Entertainment, of which Gural is the CEO and founder, operates Tioga Downs Casino Resort in Nichols and Vernon Downs Casino Hotel.

Tioga is one of four commercial casinos in NY that operate with a class III gaming license. A class III license authorizes a facility to offer live dealer table games and slot machines with independent random number generators. Racinos and video lottery terminals in NY are limited to electronic table games and slots with a linked lottery-based RNG system.

In 2022, the state approved three additional class III gaming licenses. The state will award licenses to gambling facilities in the downstate region, which is defined as the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and the counties of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam.

However, despite optimism of an expedited process, state officials indicated that they wouldn’t award those licenses until late 2025.

Gural: Casino at Meadowlands more appealing than casinos in neighborhoods

Although Gural’s gaming entities are not in the running for the three downstate NY casino licenses, he sees an opportunity across the Hudson River.

He told the Associated Press that New Jersey voters would support a ballot referendum that stipulates a North Jersey casino at the Meadowlands.

“People don’t want a casino in the neighborhood. If we make it clear it’s only at the Meadowlands, common sense tells you there will be a casino in the Meadowlands.”

Photo by Mel Evans / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is a writer for PlayNY. A New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University, he served as a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, earning statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he contributes to New York's growing legal gambling landscape, including online sports betting and potential legalization of NY online casinos. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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