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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Jersey Legislative Report

As reported on, SB2935 passed the Senate  State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee which if passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor would authorize Instant Racing in the Garden State.  While not the same as a racino, it would allow the racetracks in the state to gain additional revenue to cover their expenses and provide additional funding for purses and the moribund breeding industry.

Of course, the question is will Senate President Sweeney allow this bill come to a vote and if passed by the State Senate and Assembly, would it meet the approval of Governor Christie?  This is the million dollar question.  Instant Racing was first mentioned in the infamous Hanson Report regarding the future of horse racing in the state where it said:

We also recommend enactment of legislation authorizing exchange wagering, single pool wagering, and instant racing. These concepts,while not a panacea,can bring new revenue to
racetrack operations in New Jersey.

The concern in this corner is while not being used at present, exchange wagering and single pool wagering were legalized almost immediately, yet instant racing was not broached.  No doubt Atlantic City figured into the equation for not passing instant racing at that time.  Has the situation changed where Sweeney would allow a vote on this bill and Christie would not see instant racing as a threat to Atlantic City during the five year period of propping up the casino industry?  That is the question.

No doubt the casino industry's initial impluse would be to say 'no way' but if they think it through, allowing Instant Racing may be a smart move on their part for with racing having a new revenue source, the gaming industry may be able to keep slots and table games out of the racetracks longer. 

As for instant racing?  It's not my cup of tea.  However, it may be what is needed for those who claim racing is too slow with all the free time between races.  What can't happen is replacing live racing with the video version.

Of course, those who giveth may try to taketh away.  The same Senate committee moved a bill which would have 90% of the casino simulcast fund's revenue go to Atlantic City Race Course with 5% each going to Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway.  The Meadowlands which currently is a recipient of funding will end up with getting the ol' goose egg.  If the money is used to upgrade the dilapidated facility and/or require ACRC to race more than six days a year, I would be somewhat sympathetic to this proposal.  Otherwise, if it is going to be the same old ACRC, then this bill should be defeated.

Also, one has to wonder why Assembly bill A2914 is gathering dust in this Senate committee.  This bill, which would allow NJ residents traveling out of state to wager using, has been approved by the Assembly 73-0 yet languishes in the Senate as no action has been taken by the Senate.  Granted, the amount of revenue racing would get from this bill is minimal, but considering the legislature has shackled NJ residents to this ADW without giving them a choice, the least they can do is allow the NJ horseplayer to make a bet if they want to while traveling.  

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