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Trenton's Bad Bet vows to continue fight against expanded gaming

Trenton's Bad Bet vows to continue fight against expanded gaming

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The referendum to bring casinos to North Jersey failed last month.

But the fight over where a person can gamble in New Jersey continues.

Trenton’s Bad Bet, a Newark-based group opposed to expanding casino gaming, said it will now focus on fighting efforts to place video lottery terminals, or VLTs, and internet cafes at New Jersey racetracks.

State lawmakers have proposed a bill to let Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport and Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford to partner with existing casino operators to create areas inside the tracks that offer online gambling.

“This continued effort to expand gaming outside of Atlantic City after such a significant defeat at the ballot box is a slap in the face to New Jersey voters and reinforces the case that special interests will stop at nothing to get their way,” said Bill Cortese, executive director of Trenton’s Bad Bet.

Monmouth Park adviser Dennis Drazin told The Press of Atlantic City earlier this month he believed the proposal could give casinos a chance to grow business while also benefiting racetracks.

The proposal comes as some lawmakers continue to look at ways to expand gambling beyond Atlantic City without a referendum.

In November, voters overwhelmingly rejected a plan to expand gambling beyond Atlantic City. During the campaign, about $24.6 million was spent by outside groups for and against gambling outside of Atlantic City, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Trenton’s Bad Bet alone spent $14.4 million during the campaign, election commission records show.

The amount spent on the ballot question was the highest in state history, the commission said. The second-highest spending on a ballot question was in 1976, about $5.6 million in inflation-adjusted dollars. That referendum brought gambling to Atlantic City.

“By leaps and bounds, outside groups set an all-time record for spending on New Jersey ballot questions,” said Jeff Brindle, executive director of the election commission.

Contact: 609-272-7046 NHuba@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressHuba

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