Newark clergy members say they oppose expanding gambling to northern New Jersey

Some members of Newark's clergy say they are against a plan to expand gambling to northern New Jersey and do not want a casino to be built in Newark.

"We have enough problems here with crime, with prostitution, with gangs and violence -- we don't need that," says Cynthia Shefton with Resident Ministers Alliance.

One plan would see a casino built on a site near Newark Broad Street Station.

"Newark is struggling economically," says Gloria Harris. "To bring gambling in it would be like it is in Atlantic City, it would almost make us a wasteland."

There are some groups who are opposed to building a casino anywhere in North Jersey. Numerous media reports say anti-gambling expansion TV ads are backed by the New York City Hotel Workers Union and an international firm that owns a casino in Queens. 

Berger Organization COO Miles Berger says his company wants to build the North Jersey casino on several parcels of land that would be taxable.

"It would create 1,500 construction jobs, and then 1,500 permanent full-time jobs," Berger says.

He says that a casino in Newark could do better than the ones in Atlantic City.

"Could you imagine if the Revel Hotel...was built on Broad Street in Newark, 22 minutes from Manhattan?" Berger asks. "If those people could pick that hotel up and move it or had they built that hotel [in Newark] to begin with, how tremendously it would be doing today?"

The Revel Casino cost $2.2 billion to build, but was recently sold for only $80 million.

An ad campaign in support of the North Jersey casino was abandoned when polls showed that the measure to approve it was unlikely to pass.

If the measure fails, it would be another two years before it could go back on the ballot.

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