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Push for NJ referendum approval begins

August 03, 2016

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OUR Turn NJ, a 501c4 public issue advocacy campaign dedicated to educating New Jerseyans on the benefits of expanding gaming to northern New Jersey, announced its official launch on Wednesday. The campaign, through a wide range of grass roots public engagement and advertising tactics, will work to raise awareness of the billions of dollars that can be recaptured and the thousands of jobs that can be created by New Jersey if voters approve gaming expansion this November. It has also launched a website, OURTURNNJ.com.

Over the last decade, gaming has expanded outside of Atlantic City to neighboring states like Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York. This expansion allowed our neighbors to steal $15 billion of our gaming revenue for more than ten years. Gaming revenue in New Jersey, through the Casino Revenue Fund (CRF), pays for programs critical to our seniors and those with disabilities. Because of the gaming revenue losses, funding for these programs from the CRF has fallen dramatically. In Fiscal Year 2006, the CRF contributed $500 million dollars to fund these programs. By Fiscal Year 2014 that number fell to $221 million dollars, despite there being a greater need for these funds. That loss in funding, $1.8 billion total over that time period, was made up by the taxpayers of New Jersey. Moreover, from FY2006 and FY2015 New Jersey's senior population increased from1,129,356 to1,313,503, a jump of 16.31%.(See attached charts for breakdowns on New Jersey gaming revenue).

The loss of $1.8 billion in funding has not only taken more money out of the pockets of New Jersey taxpayers, it has meant less money in the state budget to fund other vital state programs such as pensions, transportation improvements, local aid, and school funding. Recapturing these gaming dollars that have been taken from us by our neighbors would free up hundreds of millions of dollars a year that could be put towards these and other critical programs.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature approved placing on the November ballot a constitutional amendment that would expand gaming to northern New Jersey, allowing for two new casinos. Nearly three-fourths of the Legislature voted in favor of the amendment, which was also supported by Governor Christie.

By allowing entertainment destinations with gaming to be built in northern New Jersey, voters can assist in creating 43,000 jobs in the region. These venues would include local hiring commitments that will support thousands of new and existing jobs in New Jersey, create opportunities for local workforce training programs and partnerships with the area's educational institutions, and benefit residents through ironclad community benefit agreements privately funded by developers.

Two new entertainment and gaming destinations are projected to generate $500 million dollars a year in tax revenue to help our local communities and reduce the tax burden on New Jersey taxpayers, including keeping property taxes stable. Applicants have to commit to investing at least $1 billion of private funding into each project and will not receive any public subsidies.

Casino operators will pay:

-A local host community fee;
-Property taxes;
-Hotel taxes;
-Sales taxes;
-Income taxes; and
-Gaming tax.

Gaming expansion will also provide support to New Jersey's horse racing industry which, despite troubling times, still supports over 14,000 jobs. Racetracks in neighboring states currently combine horse racing with casino gaming, enabling their purses to be significantly higher than New Jersey's. The industry is important to the open space preservation of thousands of acres of horse farms — many in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Total racing purses and wagering on horse racing have dropped nearly 50% since 2010. Gaming expansion will help the industry compete with neighboring states.

OUR Turn NJ also announced it is releasing television, radio and digital ads as it begins its efforts to educate the public on the benefits of gaming expansion. These ads will begin airing today. The television ad, entitled "OUR Turn", can be viewed here (also see attached fact sheet): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXcw4Dhiig4&feature=youtu.be

OUR Turn NJ is being supported by Paul Fireman and Jeffrey Gural. Paul Fireman is currently the Chairman of Fireman Capital Partners. From 1979 to 2006, Paul was Chairman & CEO of Reebok International Ltd in Canton, Massachusetts. In 1998, Paul began two decades of commitment to investing in New Jersey when he spent several hundred million dollars of his own money to turn a former industrial waste site on the shores of the Hudson River in Jersey City into Liberty National Golf Course.Liberty has some of the most scenic views of any golf course in the country, has twice hosted the PGA Tour's Barclays Tournament, and will be hosting the prestigious President's Cup in the fall of 2017. Paul and his wife, Phyllis, are co-founders of the Paul & Phyllis Fireman Family Foundation in their native Massachusetts. The Fireman Family Foundation, one of Massachusetts' largest, seeks to end family homelessness and benefit the communities in which the family members live and work.

New Meadowlands Racing Chairman Jeffrey Gural's passion is horse racing, with which he has actively been involved in for over 40 years. He runs the Meadowlands Racetrack as well as several other tracks in the region. Gural has been a leader in cleaning up the harness racing industry, as he is the only racetrack owner in North America that spends his own money on out-of-competition testing to ensure that the horses racing at his facilities are drug free. When the state was going to close the old Meadowlands Racetrack, Jeff organized a group of investors to build a new $120 million dollar grandstand that helped preserve the harness racing industry in New Jersey as well as 600 union jobs. In addition, the Meadowlands Racetrack contributes almost $3 million in shared services and PILOT payments with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

"The reality is that gaming has already expanded outside of Atlantic City, but New Jersey has not taken advantage of it. Creating world class entertainment destinations with gaming will attract visitors both from the region and across the world. We have a whole new opportunity in northern New Jersey to bring millions of dollars back to the state, fund critical programs, and create thousands of jobs. These funds belong here, where they can help our seniors and create jobs," said Fireman.

"New Jersey has been losing money for years because other states expanded gaming. Billions of dollars have left the state, hurting important programs and stunting economic growth. Unfortunately, the talk about gaming expansion hasn't focused on this critical issue. We firmly believe that once the public learns about the true value of expanding gaming, they will overwhelmingly support it," said Gural.

Fireman and Gural have each proposed building gaming venues in northern New Jersey. Paul has proposed a full service, high-end destination resort with gaming in Jersey City, to be built outside of the downtown, next to Liberty National Golf Course in an industrial section of the city. Paul's project, known as Liberty Rising, would be a world-class destination resort with gaming, restaurants, retail space, and entertainment venues. It would be built with a high-class, modern design that would rival entertainment destinations around the world.

Jeff has proposed building an entertainment and gaming venue in the Meadowlands, situated away from residential neighborhoods. The proposed facility would be a full service casino with restaurants, a New Jersey Music Hall of Fame and a music memorabilia museum. It would be located next to the Meadowlands Racetrack, where infrastructure already exists to bring thousands of visitors to the location.

The Liberty Rising and Meadowlands sites are both located in nonresidential areas. Should the locations be chosen, both Paul and Jeff have agreed not to accept any taxpayer dollars whatsoever for the projects. The locations are unique in that they offer the best chance to regain the funding that has left New Jersey. Over 18 million people reside within a 50 mile radius of both sites, and the median household income for this radius is $101,000, nearly double the United States' average. Moreover, the locations are within direct proximity to New York City, and its 55 million annual visitors.

New Jersey's political, business, and civic leaders have come out in support of OUR Turn NJ's goals because they understand the positive impact that can be realized with a yes vote this November. (For additional quotes, please go to http://www.ourturnnj.com/)

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