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Bills To Boost Racing Approved In NJ

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Published: December 13, 2010 9:21 pm ET

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An Assembly Democratic legislative package to enhance New Jersey's casino gaming and horse racing industries by - among other things - moving to sports gaming at casinos and racetracks, allowing Internet wagering by out-of-state residents on horse racing and expanding off-track wagering was approved Monday by the Assembly.

The seven bills build on previous Assembly Democratic efforts to help the industries, including bills to allow smaller casinos and improve this past year's racing meet at Monmouth Park.

"This is a vital step forward for our casino and horse racing industries are key to the future of New Jersey," said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee chairman. "These industries create jobs and economic growth in many ways, and they must remain strong and competitive economic engines. These bills help ensure we can accomplish that goal on many fronts."

The bills are variously sponsored by Burzichelli and Celeste Riley (both D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam (both D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland), Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), John McKeon (D-Essex), Annette Quijano (D-Union) and Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex).

The bills would:

• Propose a constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature by law to allow wagering at Atlantic City casinos and at horse racetracks on sports events (ACR-167). Sponsored by Milam, Albano, Caputo and Wagner. It was approved 54-17-4 and has now passed both houses. As a proposed amendment, it does not go to the governor, but to voters in November 2011 election.

"We need to ensure Atlantic City stays on the cutting edge and has a competitive advantage against the new wave of gambling offerings in other states," Milam said. "We can't rest idly while other states increase their offerings. We need to do better."

"A strong Atlantic City and horse industry means a strong New Jersey," Albano said. "This is a comprehensive effort to ensure our gaming industries remain strong economic drivers for our state for years to come."

"With the growth of out-of-state competition, we should try to correct the mistake New Jersey made 17 years ago when it failed to legalize sports gaming," Caputo said. "If we're to remain the East Coast's premier gaming destination. we need to make sure our racetracks and casinos are offering the best attractions, and that means adding sports gaming. We have more to do, but this is a great start."

"Sports betting already exists in New Jersey, but only the criminals are enjoying the profits," Wagner said. "Sports fans put billions of dollars on the line every year, regardless of its legality. A legal Atlantic City and race track-based sports book would ensure bettors are not fleeced or put in harm's way."

• Make several changes to New Jersey's off-track wagering statute, most notably allowing entities other than the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to run the facilities (A-1705). It's sponsored by Burzichelli and was approved 72-1, giving it final legislative approval.

"Off-track wagering hasn't taken off as successfully as it should have, and clearly it hasn't helped our horse racing industry as much as we had hoped," Burzichelli said. "One of the reasons for that is our current law has proven too cumbersome. We can change this rather easily with this bill, which I hope becomes part of the discussion in the weeks ahead as we devise a plan for the future of gaming in our state."

• Prohibit the Motor Vehicle Commission from inspecting buses on casino-owned property and designated casino parking, pick-up, or drop-off locations (A-2845). Sponsored by Burzichelli, Milam, Albano and Riley. It was approved 75-0 and goes to the Senate.

"New Jersey needs strong and modern gaming and horse racing industries that will benefit everyone through sustained job creation and economic development," Riley said. "We've always offered premiere gaming and racing industries, and with these bills we are making sure that doesn't change."

• Authorize exchange wagering on results of in-state and out-of-state horse races. Exchange wagering is defined as a form of betting in which two or more persons place directly opposing wagers on the outcome of a horse race (A-2926). Exchange wagering allows a bettor to wager on a selected outcome occurring, and another bettor to wager on that same outcome not occurring. It's sponsored by Wagner, Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex), Burzichelli and Annette Quijano (D-Union). It was approved 74-1, giving it final legislative approval.

"Expanding wagering options can only help boost our horse racing industry and tracks and ensure New Jersey stays a step ahead of the rest of the nation when it comes to innovative approaches," Wagner said. "This is a step forward for New Jersey horse racing."

"This bill will ensure this new option for horse wagering in our state is properly regulated and safeguarded," Coughlin said. "It's an exciting new option that will keep New Jersey ahead of the pack."

"This is just another way to help our horse racing industry," Burzichelli said. "This is simply another option and another way to build interest in the races, which can only help the industry as we move forward with a more modern racing model for our state."

"By becoming the first state in the country to allow exchange wagering, New Jersey is once again at the forefront of the gaming industry," Quijano said. "This bill will be a boon for the horse racing industry and the local communities which support it."

• Permit racetrack permit holders to provide for a single pari-mutuel pool for each running or harness horse race (A-3200). Sponsored by McKeon and Wagner. It was approved 75-0, giving it final legislative approval.

"We can never rest easy when it comes to ensuring our horse racing industry can succeed, but this is an aggressive start toward modernizing it and positioning it to succeed," McKeon said. "A strong horse racing industry will mean so much to New Jersey's future."

• Authorize Internet account wagering for residents outside New Jersey on in-state horse races (A-3498). Sponsored by Burzichelli. It was approved and now goes to the Senate.

"This bill represents yet another effort to ensure New Jersey's horse racing industry is strong and viable," Burzichelli said. "A modern horse racing industry must take into consideration all the ways in which people can participate, and that of course means bringing the Internet and other electronic means into play for those outside our state. Opening New Jersey's horse racing industry to a wider audience is simply a smart thing to do."

• Allow casinos and out-of-state racetracks to negotiate the amount casinos will pay for simulcast races (A-3580). Sponsored by Burzichelli. It was approved 75-0 and now goes to the Senate.

(Assembly Democrats)


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