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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Racing Finally Able to Flex its Muscles in New Jersey

New Jersey horsemen and track operators are threatening a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a proposed law to allow online Poker in the State of New Jersey as the bill takes away subsidies to the racing industry which Governor Christie conditionally vetoed in a bill last year.  The new bill would still permit online poker but removes the portion of the original legislation which granted racing a portion of the profits; an impact fee as it was.  As a result of the horsemen's threat, the Assembly committee postponed a vote on the legislation until they get a ruling from the Attorney General's office on whether the bill will require a constitutional amendment or not.  Well, being Governor Christie appointed the Attorney General, there is a good chance he will rule a constitutional amendment is not necessary as the servers will be located in Atlantic City (going against your boss is never wise).

As to the threat by racetracks and horsemen that they would likely challenge the constitutionality of the bill if signed into law without a portion going to subsidize pools, State Senator Whelan was quoted as saying “I feel like I’m being blackmailed.  “I‘m open to discussion but I don’t like a gun being put to my head and being told, ‘You will do this or else we will blow this whole thing up.’ '

Well, Senator Whelan, how does it feel to have the shoe on the other foot?  Bad enough casino gambling is limited to Atlantic City and the Governor and you will not allow racetracks to have slot machines as you feel it would cannibalize the Atlantic Casino industry as it attempts to reinvent itself, but you find it okay to virtually put a poker room in someone's house in East Rutherford and all over the state where it would cannibalize the racing industry?  Where is the protection for the horse racing industry?

The Governor and his partners want to argue that by putting the servers in Atlantic City, the gambling is, in effect, occurring in Atlantic City.  Well, I don't know about you, but if the player is sitting in front of his computer in East Rutherford and is making their decisions on how much to wager and how to play his hand, it sure sounds like the game is being played in East Rutherford.  When casino gambling was legalized in the state, the constitution was changed to limit gaming to Atlantic City after an earlier attempt for a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling state-wide went down to defeat.  Clearly, at that time, the electorate wanted people to travel to Atlantic City to gamble in casinos.  Hence, if you want to expand casino gambling (online or not) throughout the state, a referendum is necessary.  If you want to try to get around the amendment process, I believe the track operators and horsemen would have a very strong case in challenging the constitutionality of the legislation as being proposed.

Here now is the advantage of the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park not being state-owned.  In addition to the horsemen being able to pay the legal expenses of a lawsuit and/or a fight against a constitutional amendment legalizing online poker in the state, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park will be able to contribute funds to the cause along with Freehold Raceway and Atlantic City Race Course.  While I think the casino industry can outspend the racing interests, the fight will be a lot fairer than it has been in the past.

Meadowlands Releases Sulky Statistics:  The Meadowlands has released information regarding how the different sulkys being used are doing at the Meadowlands.  The Meadowlands has been color coding the different sulky types in post parade to make it easier for gamblers at home and the track to determine the type of sulky being used.  Some of the more experienced gamblers may feel they are losing an advantage, but it is better to give everyone the same information and let them decide what to do with it. 


Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Pacingguy : Regarding the online poker servers being placed in Atlantic City, thereby having the gaming "take place" in Atlantic City, let's take a very different view here. The racetracks as a consortium should all support this concept.


Doesn't this imply by extension that the core business of the racetracks, horse wagering, if hosted on racetrack property, can be offered across the state?

In turn, doesn't this allow the racetracks to all now operate their own ADW systems and therefore increase the core wagering into their own pools?

In summary, seeing poker playing as a competitor to horse wagering is the wrong approach. Almost all technical resources and casino layouts place the two near each other due to their complementary and overlapping "cerebral" nature of the gaming. Racetracks should embrace the concept and convert the discussion into something advantageous for their own business models.


Sincerely, Scott

Pacingguy said...

Scott, the problem is the state legislature will not allow racing to go state wide as they need local approval to get an OTW up. There is no such restriction for the casinos.

In theory there is an ADW for the tracks; it is called 4NJBETS.

Now, if you were saying racetracks should be allowed to sell tickets at your local candy store to facilitate a Pick X wager, then maybe, but the state will keep a stranglehold on racing. There is the problem.