« » »
{{ day.day }} {{ day.day }}

NJ Senate passes $100 million racing subsidy

December 17, 2018

« Return to News
The (New Jersey) state Senate on Monday passed a bill that would give a $20 million annual subsidy to New Jersey's horse racing industry, a measure that would restore state support that had been cut off years ago as former Gov. Chris Christie looked to shore up Atlantic City's casinos.

The legislation, NJ S2992 (18R), which passed the Senate, 40-0, comes just four months after New Jersey legalized sports betting at the racetracks after a years-long legal fight that ended at the U.S. Supreme Court. The measure has not yet been introduced in the Assembly.

Supporters of the bill say the subsidy, which would come from the state's general fund and be divided equally between the Thoroughbred and the Standardbred industries, would benefit not just racetracks but everyone involved in racing — from jockeys to those working on equine farms. The bill also requires agreements with sports book operators that ensure some of that revenue will be shared with the breeders and owners.

Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex), a sponsor, said other states subsidize their horse racing industries and it is time New Jersey start doing so again. The state used to direct $30 million in annual casino revenue to the tracks, but that ended earlier this decade as Atlantic City gambling halls started to close.

"We are the only state in this country that has both casinos and racetracks, and the racetracks get no subsidy here in New Jersey. They get it in every other state," Codey said, adding that the measure would preserve working farms and bring the equine industry back to the "state of prominence they once had."

The measure would provide the annual subsidy for five years, starting this fiscal year, funneling the $100 million through the New Jersey Racing Commission and requiring the funds be used for purse subsidies and track operations. The money would benefit the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport and Freehold Raceway.

Monmouth Park and Meadowlands both have sports books on site. Representatives for Freehold have said the track's operators are talking to potential sports betting partners.

Still, sponsors say there needs to be assurances the new windfall trickles down to the entire equine industry. (SBOANJ)
« Return to News