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Pro-Gaming Bills Advance In NJ

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Published: February 18, 2011 10:50 am ET

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On Thursday, February 17, both houses of the New Jersey Legislature passed bills which look like they will have a positive impact for the state racing industry.

As explained in an article by The Paramus Post, the bills which were passed would, amongst other things, expand off track wagering and simulcasting, and allow the state to jointly run racetrack operations (via the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority) with a racetrack lessee during a transition period, as has been proposed at the Meadowlands.

The bills which passed the legislature were overwhelmingly positive for the state racing industry overall, although one of the bills passed does refer to the possibility of drastic reductions in race dates at state tracks.

The Paramus Post report contains a précis of the bills which were passed. The précis -- which explains what the bills would do -- appears below.

  • Permit wagers to be placed at racetracks or casino simulcasting facilities in advance for races not simulcast at the facility, if the race is simulcast at other facilities in the state (A-2513). It’s sponsored by McKeon. It was approved 77-0, giving it final legislative approval.
  • Permit the standardbred permit holder at the Meadowlands Racetrack to decrease the annually required minimum number of scheduled standardbred race dates from no fewer than 141 to no fewer than 75, upon written consent from the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. The bill also permits the standardbred permit holder at Freehold Raceway to decrease the annually required minimum number of scheduled standardbred race dates from 168 to no fewer than 75 upon written consent from association (A-3511). It’s sponsored by Burzichelli, Wagner and Vainieri Huttle. It was approved 75-0.
  • Provide the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority with the power to jointly run racetrack operations with a racetrack lessee during a transitionary period (A-3710). It’s sponsored by Burzichelli and was approved 76-0.

“These bills all share one single goal – enhancing our horse racing industry to allow it to continue creating jobs and economic development throughout our state for years to come,” Burzichelli was quoted as saying in The Paramus Post article. “We’ve taken many steps in the past year to improve our horse racing industry, and these bills represent another step toward keeping it strong.”

Other horse racing-related bills recently acted upon by the Legislature include:

  • 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). It goes voters in November 2011 election.
  • 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). It has final legislative approval.
  • Permit racetrack permit holders to provide for a single pari-mutuel pool for each running or harness horse race (A-3200). It has final legislative approval.
  • Authorize Internet account wagering for residents outside New Jersey on in-state horse races (A-3498). It was approved by the Assembly.
  • Establish a special dedicated fund in the Department of Law and Public Safety to provide incentives for the breeding and development of racehorses in this state (A-3531). It has final legislative approval.
  • Allow casinos and out-of-state racetracks to negotiate the amount casinos will pay for simulcast races (A-3580). It was approved by the Assembly.

A report on the bill action by mycentraljersey.com delves into the off-track wagering aspect of the legislation. In 2001, licenses for 15 OTW locations had been issued, yet there are only three built right now. The article explains that the OTW bill -- which had been adjusted after a previous 'friendly' veto by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- will essentially place the onus on the owners of the remaining 12 OTW licenses to either make progress on the facilities by 2012 or face the reality of having the licenses stripped form them. The bill also contains conditions which would see OTW be available at restaurants.

"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," the mycentraljersey.com article quoted Burzichelli as saying. "Our current law has proven too cumbersome. We can change this rather easily with this bill."

In other Meadowlands Racetrack-related news, northjersey.com has reported that although the Alberta-based company Triple Five has signed a letter of intent to take over the stalled Xanadu mall project, the deal has yet to be completed. Although, Gov. Christie's adviser, Jon Hanson, has been quoted as saying the deal with the operators of the massive Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall could see the Xanadu expand in size.

"The Mall of America is more than four-million square feet, and the West Edmonton Mall is more than five million, so we are exploring with Triple Five the possibility of making the project larger," northjersey.com quoted Hanson as saying. "There are various moving parts that have to be finalized, but I remain confident that this project will move forward. We're working regularly on it."

(With files from The Paramus Post, mycentraljersey.com and northjersey.com)

Related Stories

NJSEA To Run Tracks A Little Longer?
Triple Five Signs Letter Of Intent For Xanadu


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