If voters defeat the North Jersey casino referendum Nov. 8, the leaders of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber don’t plan to spend much time celebrating.

The business group’s president, Joe Kelly, said Wednesday he and others expect to get right back to work fighting a referendum they believe will be on the ballot again in two years.

“I think the fight starts the day after the election,” Kelly told The Press of Atlantic City’s editorial board.

Bob Marshall, the chamber’s chief lobbyist, also sounded resigned to a rerun of the campaign in 2018.

“They are expanding and reforming the issue again,” Marshall said.

“They already have plans B and C if it doesn’t get approved in a couple weeks,” added Mitchell Zitomer, the chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.

Statewide polls have consistently found a majority of voters in the state oppose this year’s vote to allow two casinos in North Jersey. And the chief organized supporters of the gambling expansion, a group called Our Turn NJ, announced by Sept. 22 they were suspending the advertising campaign for the referendum.

Still, the chamber has scheduled a get-out-the-vote rally Oct. 27 on the city’s Boardwalk. The rally is set for 10:30 a.m. at Kennedy Plaza, in front of Boardwalk Hall. And another anti-casino effort, a group based in North Jersey called Trenton’s Bad Bet, has kept fighting the current referendum. That included releasing new opposition ads this week.

So far, supporters and opponents have spent almost $21 million making their case on the referendum, according to state Election Law Enforcement Commission reports released this week. Trenton’s Bad Bet accounted for about $11.3 million of that.

Kelly added his group has plenty of experience opposing moves to legalize casinos outside Atlantic City.

“We’ve been fighting that issue for well over 10 years. And as soon as we finish this fight, we’re going to be preparing for the next two years,” he said. “I hope at some point that the economics of an oversaturated (regional casino) market … that argument will win the day.”

Contact: 609-272-7237 MDeangelis@pressofac.com Twitter @PressBeach

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