If you follow the money, the result of tomorrow's scheduled referendum vote on whether to expand legal gambling to Northern New Jersey will likely be defeated. Opposition groups have spent $14.4 million fighting the legislation compared to $8.6 million spent to support it, according to the state's Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Even more telling is the fact that $3.1 million of the opposition side's total was spent in the last two weeks while just $100,000 of the pro-side's $8.6 million was spent in the past two weeks. Both sides are reading the tea leaves, and passage of the legislation looks to be a long shot.
New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D), who co-sponsored Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 206, told TheStreet that an outsized amount of out-of-state money from New York has helped sway the vote. That total apparently includes $50 million not counted by the ELEC that Caputo says was given to Super Pacs opposed to the referendum.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's position on the referendum has evolved since he signed a five-year moratorium on expanding gambling in the state in 2011. In May 2015, Christie reportedly told a New Jersey radio station that he "certainly would be publicly supportive of getting this question [of casino expansion] done as quickly as we could so that we can proceed to expand if that's the will of the people... I think given the competition around us, it would be the right thing to do."
Christie's office has not responded to a request for comment. The polling also shows that New Jerseyans are leaning towards not passing the referendum by a 70% to 24% margin, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey. That's up from the 57% of people polled who opposed the referendum in June.