Berger Organization Supports Bringing Casino Gambling to Newark
Real Estate Developer Encourages the Public to Vote "Yes" on Bringing Casino Gambling to New Jersey's Largest City
NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 13, 2016 – In November, New Jersey residents will cast their votes on a referendum that proposes bringing Atlantic City-style casinos to two northern New Jersey counties. Miles Berger, chairman and COO of The Berger Organization, believes that Newark should be one of the locations; he has been encouraging people to vote “yes” on November 8 with a digital billboard atop one of his buildings in downtown Newark and with a banner at a property he owns on Broad Street.
It’s the Broad Street property that The Berger Organization hopes to include in a large-scale development project that would encompass a casino hotel, convention center and multiple parking venues. The diversified real estate company owns and manages commercial and hospitality properties – including many sites in Newark – and the organization has been at the forefront of Newark’s downtown revitalization.
The vacant parcel on Broad Street is across the street from the Broad Street Station, (with rail service to Manhattan just 22 minutes away) and the site of Riverfront Stadium, the former home of the Newark Bears. Berger has been in talks with the new owner of the stadium property, the City of Newark, and several global casino owner/operators, who operate in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, about a venture in Newark. He sees the opportunity as a much-needed economic engine that would bring thousands of construction, casino and hospitality jobs to the region, and revenue to the state.
Until earlier this month, Jeffrey Gural, owner of Meadowlands Race Track in East Rutherford (and two racinos in New York State), and Paul Fireman, developer of Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City had also been advertising heavily in favor of the casino referendum. Both are vocal proponents of expanded gaming in New Jersey and had proposed plans to build hotel-casino complexes adjacent to their assets in Bergen and Hudson counties. However, they stopped funding their pro-North Jersey casino campaigns after their research reported that only 38% of New Jersey voters were in favor of the referendum.
“Although Mr. Gural and Mr. Fireman recently ended their advertising campaigns in favor of this initiative, I am not stopping,” said Berger.
Berger said he is continuing his measure to stem the negative and misleading messages from the opposition group, Trenton’s Bad Bet. Its ad campaign is funded partially by Genting Group, a Malaysian company that operates the Resorts World casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York. Berger said the group’s efforts are being done to protect its business interests in the Northeast; a gambling venue in Northern New Jersey would draw away part of its customer base.
“These foreign backers are spending many millions of dollars to spread lies that gaming in our northern counties would hurt New Jersey. In fact, it would hurt their establishments.”
Trenton’s Bad Bet’s messaging tells the public that Trenton politicians will give casino operating licenses to their friends, and that establishing more casinos would hurt seniors, which Berger says is simply not true. “A portion of casino revenue goes to state programs that reduce costs for our senior citizens. That will not change. The statements that these Malaysian entities are putting forth are lies, perpetrated through their false ad campaign, which I am counteracting.”
Berger’s digital billboard, located at one of the company’s properties on Broad Street in Newark, faces I-280 West and urges voters to vote yes to the measure, to protect seniors and create thousands of jobs. The banner at the Broad Street site says the same.
Broad Street Proposal
Berger has proposed to the City of Newark that the Broad Street site, combined with the former Bears Stadium, be an ideal site for a casino hotel.
It is easily accessible by car, off Route 21 and I-280, and it’s a quick trip from Manhattan to Broad Street Station, just 22 minutes to midtown. It’s also close to Newark Penn Station.
“New York City is the world’s biggest tourist destination. The transit connections mean that both NYC residents and tourists can come enjoy gambling in less than half an hour. We’d also incorporate the light rail station that was built for Riverfront Stadium into the casino; Amtrak or NJ Transit riders could get off at Penn Station and take the light rail right to the casino. The land and the infrastructure are there.” Berger’s plan also calls for Division Street to be vacated by the city in order to combine the two parcels of land to create this project.
The Berger Organization firm has been in discussions with two of the largest Atlantic City hotel operators who also operate casinos in Las Vegas and worldwide. The six-month advance application time frame stipulates that only those parties with existing casino licenses, operating currently in Atlantic City, and who can meet the minimum capital investment of one billion dollars may apply. After the initial six months, the application process is open to anyone who meets certain criteria.
“It’s been thrilling to see the revitalization and development of downtown Newark, and this needs to continue,” said Berger. “A casino hotel in downtown Newark will be a tremendous advantage to the city and Essex County.”
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