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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Could NJ Racing be Coming to an Opportunity?

Governor Christie has three days to decide the fate of the legislation allowing online gaming in New Jersey (oops, I am supposed to say Atlantic City) as the deadline is February 7.  At this point, despite the pressure being put on him to sign the legislation, the Governor has not tipped his hand as to whether or not he will sign the bill into law or veto it.  What is known is the Governor is concerned about an increase in gambling addiction and even though the legislature has gotten testimony regarding the constitutionality of the bill, one must assume the Governor is still considering whether or not the legislation is constitutional. 

It is certainly premature as the Governor may sign the legislation, but if a veto of the legislation is forthcoming, it could be a pivotal moment for horse racing in New Jersey. 

Make no mistake, Atlantic City wants online gaming.  Atlantic City needs online gaming, so much that this could be the opening racing is looking for.  If the legislation is vetoed and the Governor cites constitutional issues, Atlantic City will almost certainly be looking for a change in the state constitution making online gaming legal in New Jersey.  Were this the case, it is almost certain North and Central Jersey legislators will block any attempt for a constitutional referendum without language allowing for casino gambling at racetracks or the Meadowlands at a minimum.  Of course, approval of a constitutional ammendment is not assured but if it were to be approved by voters, racing would get the boost in purses it is seeking, allowing it to compete with other racetracks in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic.

Of course, if the legislation is signed by the Governor and it survives a likely constitutional challenge, racing will be dealt another blow as New Jersey residents will have another option for their discretionary spending, so until the Governor makes a decision on the legislation it is imperative for racing supporters to make their views known to the Governor on the legislation.

While legalizing online gaming without allowing a Meadowlands casino to be built would be a blow to racing, if anyone thinks online gaming is going to save Atlantic City they are fooling themselves.  While it will give AC breathing room, how long will it take for Delaware to take advantage of their legalizing of online gaming, Pennsylvania to pass legislation legalizing online gaming, even Maryland?  Just like casino gambling, it's only a question of time before other casino states legalize online gaming and there is no assurance they will be asking Atlantic Casinos to run it for them; especially failing Federal legislation allowing interstate online gaming.

Atlantic City is a failed bet, built for another time.  All the legislature is trying to do is save institutional investors from losing their shirts on the investment they made in Atlantic City, giving them a chance to minimize their losses.

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