By Freeholder Lillian G. Burry
The 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