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Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Bad Bill for NJ Horsemen

Albeit very premature, legislation has been introduced to tax the casino revenue at a Meadowlands casino at a 66% tax rate.  Other than knowing Jeff Gural has agreed to pay a higher tax rate than Atlantic City were the Meadowlands to get a casino and is willing to help Atlantic City with a subsidy (ironic isn't it?) with a percentage of the revenue going to Atlantic City, I have no idea whether the proposed tax rate is too high, too low, or just right.  I will  leave it to the budget people to opine on the suitability of the tax rate.  Under the legislation,  the tax on gross revenue would be divided up as: 42.9% to the state's general fund; 16.5% to the Casino Redevelopment Act fund; 6.6% to a fund dedicated to stabilize the taxes of those municipalities within the towns which make up the Hackensack Meadowlands district.

Do you see something missing from this legislation?  There is no mention of the percentage of revenue which would be dedicated to racing purses, presumably under the assumption it would be decided through a negotiation between track management and horsemen.

As the expression goes, "This dog don't hunt".  Leaving the amount to be dedicated to purses as part of negotiating a contract between horsemen and management is a horrible idea.  Ask the horsemen at Pompano Park how well they think that is working for them down there; odds are they would spit in your face and hurl a few epithets your way; the reason being it doesn't work.  While thoroughbred and quarter horse horsemen have their shares dictated by state law, the harness horsemen were thrown under the bus by the state legislature with no such dictate.

Granted, we are hearing a proposal by Jeff Gural to dedicate 5% of casino revenue to the horsemen, something the horsemen consider insufficient, being the agreement the NJTHA made with Gural was the thoroughbreds horsemen would get 50% of the horsemen's share, meaning under the Gural proposal, the standardbred horsemen would get 2.5% of the revenue for purses of which part of that would be used by the SBOANJ to prop up purses at Freehold Raceway where they also race.  It is not surprising SBOANJ President Tom Luchento is already using 'being thrown under the bus' to describe Gural's proposal.  Of course, it is important to realize this 5% offer is the opening salvo in the negotiations and odds are it will be negotiated highecr.

But then it may not, which is why any bill authorizing casino gaming at the Meadowlands must specify how much of the revenue is to be dedicated to horse racing purses (including the 50-50 split), or at a minimum if you want to leave it up to negotiations, include a range to be used as a starting point in negotiations.  I am not saying Jeff Gural would not negotiate fairly with the SBOANJ and NJTHA, but for all involved, it wold be better for the percentage to be legislated to keep things honest.

Looking forward to wagering on Canadian RUS?  Depending on where you live, even with the simulcasting of Canadian tracks doesn't guarantee Americans will get to platy them.  For example, in New Jersey, a type of racing needs to be an approved format prior simulcsting can take place.  Hence, as of now NJ residents will be shut out.

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