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Campbell: The Meadowlands just needs help

September 29, 2010

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The New Jersey Gaming Summit at Monmouth Park, the Thoroughbred track owned and operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), was the site for the only appearance by Jon Hanson, chairman of the commission appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to study the state’s horse racing and casino industries and present recommendations. The Summit got underway Wednesday morning.
The Hanson Report, as it has been commonly called, suggested that horse racing be privatized and bluntly said it was a dying industry. Hanson was expected to have to defend the report of the commission he chaired, but most of the questions put forth by Democratic legislators, who organized the summits, were softballs.
Hanson spoke proudly of being the chairman of the NJSEA when it bought Monmouth Park, but said nothing specific about harness racing at the Meadowlands. Later during the Summit, driver John Campbell said it was ironic that Hanson would proudly note the NJSEA’s purchase of Monmouth since it came with money made largely from harness racing. Campbell said harness racing had been “rode hard and put away wet,” without investment in the business.
Campbell also told the gathering of legislators, horse supporters and the media that, “The Meadowlands isn’t dying; it’s not dead. It just needs some help. We still have something that the betting public wants.”
The Hanson commission was criticized for not keeping minutes of its meetings, and several legislators asked Hanson why he thought it wasn’t necessary. Hanson answered that he considered the commission’s work largely a collection of informal conversations and meetings.
Dennis Drazin, who formerly headed the state’s Thoroughbred horsemen’s group and now serves as chairman of the New Jersey Racing Commission, spoke at length about the math that was done by the Hanson commission that painted horse racing as a big money loser. Drazin noted that the NJSEA’s profits from its off-track wagering facility and account wagering were not applied to the loss, and other charges also were wrongly used in the accounting.
“The right thing to do is give us a chance to succeed,” said Drazin.
Anthony Perretti of Perretti Farms kept up his efforts to educate legislators about contributions horse racing makes to the New Jersey economy, either through direct taxes or other means.
Click here to read the news report posted by the Press of Atlantic City newspaper.
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