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Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Open Letter to Senator Lesniak

Senator Lesniak,

I am extremely disappointed that you have capitulated to Governor Christie on your bill to bring intra-state online gambling to New Jersey with regards to not allocating any funds to thoroughbred and harness racing interests as your original bill provided for.

You do realize there will be challenges to the legislation if it is approved based on constitutional issues.  As you are aware, casino gambling is currently limited by the New Jersey constitution to Atlantic City.  Under this proposed legislation, an attempt to circumvent the constitution is being made by locating the servers in Atlantic City while the gambler may be sitting in their home in Union City or elsewhere in the state.  The last time I looked at a map, Union City is not part of incorporated Atlantic City so I believe the New Jersey Supreme Court will find the legislation unconstitutional.

But let's leave the constitutional issue aside and let me tell you why capitulating to the Governor to eliminate horse racing from the new bill is bad for racing and unfair.  The state has divested itself of the racetracks by leasing the tracks to Morris Bailey and Jeff Gural.  Now that the state is out of the racing business, if your bill is signed into law, you will be changing the gambling environment in New Jersey; challenging the existence of racing by making it face new competition without giving racing the tools to compete against the competition Internet gambling will provide.  However, I think I have a compromise which will be fair to all involved.

If we concede online Internet casino games should be benefiting Atlantic City casinos because the games after all are casino games, I would suggest if sports gambling ever comes to the Garden State, it become the exclusive right of racetracks to offer this form of gambling.  After all, horse racing is gambling on a sport, so accepting wagers on other sports events is a logical extension of the horse racing business.  Hence, may I suggest if and when sports wagering is finally legalized by the United States Supreme Court, you propose legislation giving racetracks the exclusive right to offer sports wagering in New Jersey.

 For many years, the racing industry has provided millions of dollars of revenue to the state until Atlantic City casinos opened. Since the racing was legally not allowed to offer new games by the government, the casinos were able to siphon business from the racetracks, to the point the state decided to divest itself of the racetracks.  By allowing racetracks to offer sports wagering, you will be allowing racetracks to compete against casinos, something government regulation of racetracks has not allowed for many years. 

Should your lawsuit to get the federal ban on sports wagering declared unconstitutional succeed, I look forward to your proposal allowing racetracks alone to offer sports wagering.  After all, fair is fair.



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