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NJ Racing’s Case For Slots Presented

Published: April 3, 2009 12:15 pm ET

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A quartet of speakers representing New Jersey’s racing industry made their case for slots at racetracks before the State Assembly Budget Hearing in the State House Annex on Thursday, April 2, 2009.

Speaking on behalf of the racing industry were Anthony Perretti of Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge, NJ; Michael Gulotta of Deo Volente Farms in Flemington, NJ; Standardbred Owners & Breeders Association of New Jersey president Tom Luchento and Barbara DeMarco, representing the New Jersey thoroughbred industry. The testimony and comments from legislators far exceeded the five minute limit, lasting nearly one hour.

Also in attendance were SBOANJ directors Robert Boni and Mark Mullen, Perretti Farm’s Bob Marks and SBOANJ executive administrator Leo McNamara.

“The grim reality is that surrounding states have taken bold steps to reinvent their horse racing industries as a gaming and entertainment experience,” said Perretti, who led off the presentation. “Our New Jersey has stood still with a generations-old approach.”

“My concern, of course, is the preservation of this industry but unlike most of the speakers you will likely hear from, I am not asking for money,” Luchento told the Assembly members on the committee. “Instead, I am suggesting a source of income – something that could yield annual revenues to the state of more than $1 billion. Even in these days of trillion dollar deficits, that is not an insignificant sum.

“At a time of great economic turmoil, we would hope that the legislature would take a fresh look at slots as a source of revenue for the state budget as well as the means to secure the future of racing and protect the thousands of acres of land currently devoted to the care and breeding of horses in New Jersey,” he added.

"Gaming has become a local business," said Gulotta, who also testified before the Senate Budget Hearing at Montclair State University last week, He argued that people in northern New Jersey are no longer willing to make the trip to Atlantic City to gamble and being lost to the racino at Yonkers.

Committee Chairman Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, argued that wagering on slot machines at racetracks would come at the expense of Atlantic City’s casinos.

"It will shift a billion dollars from Atlantic City to other places in the state," he said.

Assemblyman Joseph Malone, R-Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, disagreed, saying that slot machines would help the state's gambling industry compete with growing competition in neighboring states.

"Something's not drawing them to Atlantic City," he said. "They're going to New York."

In addition to Malone (R-District 30), other Assembly members who spoke out in support of slots at the tracks included Gary Schaer (D-District 36), Joseph Cryan (D-District 20), Declan O’Scanlon (R-District 12) and David Wolfe (R-District 10).

Click here to listen to the hearings.

(SBOANJ)


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