The news about New Jersey’s “carry-killer” law has spread since its passage and signing in December 2022. All three branches of government in New Jersey went apoplectic after the NYSRPA v. Bruen decision, and they have been acting out ever since. Much like New York’s, New Jersey’s governor pushed to have a new law instituted to gut the right to carry in the Garden State completely. The new law makes it near impossible to carry in public anywhere, defining several “sensitive locations” where one cannot bring a firearm.
Due to litigation, the carry-killer law has several provisions put on hold through temporary restraining orders. One of the provisions in question, sensitive locations as defined by the new law, is casinos.
In response to the temporary restraining order, the Casino Association of New Jersey – “an organization which represents the casino industry in Atlantic City” – announced that all casinos in the state will be posted as “gun-free.” The Association’s membership comprises all nine casinos in Atlantic City.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and employees is a top priority for the Atlantic City casino industry. Considering the Court Order temporarily restraining enforcement of the State law prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms in public places, including casinos, all of the Atlantic City casinos are exercising their rights, as private property owners, to prohibit the carrying of firearms on their premises.” – Mark Giannantonio
There’s a lot of speculation about who is behind the urging of the casinos to become gun-free zones. As illustrated in the below notice, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs believes Governor Phil Murphy may have put the squeeze on the casinos to salvage some of the unconstitutional laws he championed. Murphy should be embarrassed over how quickly the courts placed his new law on hold.
The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs put out a statement on February 13th about the decision of all nine casinos in Atlantic City to make their properties gun-free zones.
ANJRPC is calling upon the Garden State’s one million gun owners to boycott all Atlantic City casinos, in the wake of an orchestrated joint effort to ban right to carry on casino premises as “private property.” Given the many millions in taxpayer-funded bailouts of those casinos over many years, it is debatable whether their property can even qualify as “private” anymore.
Casinos have received millions in taxpayer-funded bailouts for many years, including recently under the Murphy Administration, which may have leaned on the owners to ban carry if they are to receive further state funding. Ironically, that state funding may jeopardize the casino ban itself, since government-funded entities may be prohibited from banning the exercise of constitutional rights.
ANJRPC has a valid point about the property and whether the casinos can even ban such activities, given the financial support that taxpayers have given them over the years.
Tracking down where or when the casinos decided to make this policy is nearly impossible. A New Jersey patriot and friend of AmmoLand News shared an Open Public Record Act request they made. The first OPRA request was a bust, but the second, with more specific wording, the state provided two email strings.
In that correspondence, there were some communications between the state and the Casino Association of New Jersey before the announcement. No party involved can claim this was completely on a whim, as there’s evidence, albeit small, that there were communications. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement – the regulatory agency for casinos in the state – queried a representative of the Casino Association the day before the news went public.
On Sunday, February 5, 2023, at 11:52 a.m., David Rebuck, the Director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, emailed Joseph R. Dougherty, Esq. Dougherty, according to a Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey site, is listed as an attorney for the Casino Association of New Jersey. Rebuck’s email read, “Any update on possible CANJ press release?”
Promptly at 12:29 p.m. that same day, Dougherty responded:
Yes. The approved statement is below. We’re having it pushed out starting tomorrow.
“The safety and well-being of our customers and employees is our top priority. Considering the Court Order temporarily restraining enforcement of the State law prohibiting the carrying of firearms, all of the Atlantic City casinos are exercising their rights, as private property owners, to prohibit the carrying of firearms on their premises.”
While this email string is not proof of a deep conspiracy, it does, however, help add to the big picture. New Jersey has been handling the right to carry in the Garden State adversely.
On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, the day after the announcement, at 3:24 p.m., an email was sent from Nicholas F. Moles, the Vice President & General Counsel of Resorts Casino Hotel, to several individuals. Moles appears to not only be the Vice President & General Counsel of Resorts Casino Hotel but according to OpenSecrets.org, he’s listed as the Treasurer of the Tropicana Resort & Casino Political Action Committee.
Giannantonio, Moles’ boss, is the president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and the president & CEO at Resorts Casino Hotel.
Moles’s email went out to Kerry Langan, and David Rebuck was CCed. Kerry Langan is listed as the spokesperson for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement on a GamingRegulation.com website, as well as on Linkedin. The message read as follows:
Good afternoon, Kerry. These articles showed up in our clippings and I thought I would pass them on to you for your information. Stay well. Nick.
AC CASINO CONCEAL CARRY BAN
Proceeding the message were several headlines and articles that were put in the body of the email. All of the news stories pertained to the Casino Association of New Jersey announcement banning firearms on the properties they represent. The following linked headlines are what Moles sent to Langan and Rebuck:
- Casino Association of New Jersey Statement
- Atlantic City casinos ban guns as legal battle over new carrying law continues
- Atlantic City casinos will not allow concealed carry
Why an employee of one of the casinos would think that both the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement and the legal representation for the Casino Association would want these clippings? Granted, the Casino Association getting the correspondence does make sense, but what vested interest does the State of New Jersey have in the Association’s announcement, and why would they send them to the state?
AmmoLand News contacted David Rebuck, the Director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement for the State of New Jersey, for comment. He was asked about his correspondence before the announcement and invited to weigh in on the casinos making the decision to become gun free zones. Rebuck was given the opportunity to make a comment to be published in full for inclusion in this piece. We received a response from a Public Information Officer from the Attorney General’s office:
“Thank you for reaching out. The Division of Gaming Enforcement has no comment.”
Is this a mic-drop moment? No. It sure does lead to more questions rather than provide answers. How things progress concerning the individual properties and who makes what policy going forward, we’ll be following that. As of now, it does appear the Division of Gaming Enforcement for New Jersey was aware of the announcement from the Casino Association of New Jersey in advance. Is this an indication of the trade organization getting chummy with the regulatory body that governs those who’s interests they represent? Can’t say for sure.
About John Petrolino
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino, facebook at @thepenpatriot and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .