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NJ report says state should get out of horse racing

July 21, 2010

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On Wednesday morning New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made it official when he announced that his specially-appointed commission on the state’s gambling industry had recommended to drastically scale back the operations of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA)—operator of the Meadowlands racetrack and Monmouth Park—and privatize operations.
Meanwhile, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey is working behind the scenes on plans to maintain harness racing at the Meadowlands while the political battle continues.

The report by the Christie commission states that the Meadowlands Racetrack could be leased for as little as $1 a year to unload it from the state's obliigations. The report also says the NJSEA’s Monmouth Park should be sold.

In addition, the commission—and Christie—recommend that the state take over Atlantic City by creating an entity seemingly like the NJSEA so the 30-year-old casino industry there can be more effectively managed.

The proposals are just that and are loaded with political landmines that were immediately discussed by state lawmakers, among others.

The Newark Star-Ledger, on its website nj.com, published a story that said “any move to put gambling in the Meadowlands would result in certain opposition from Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester). Sweeney, who could unilaterally kill any of the legislation needed. Sweeney and the rest of the South Jersey legislative contingent oppose gaming licenses being issued outside of Atlantic City.”

Assembly Speaker Sheia Oliver (D-Essex) told the Star-Ledger the plan was "extremely dramatic," and she did not believe the governor was going to see overwhelming support. "I don’t think we can (any) longer say that Atlantic City has to be the only venue in the state," she said.
Oliver added: "There are equal numbers of northern New Jersey legislators that have strong feelings about the potential of the Meadowlands," Oliver said.
The Star-Ledger report said Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) "could be another hurdle."
"I’m not prepared to concede the future of the sports complex, and that real estate is an important part of our economy in New Jersey," Sarlo said.

Sen. Richard Codey, a horse racing fan and the one-time acting governor following the resignation of Jim McGreevey, also told the Star-Ledger he was opposed to the plan. "It’s mind boggling that we would let hundreds of millions of dollars go to other states," he said. "Because once the Aqueduct (racetrack in New York) opens, there will no one in Jersey who can’t take a short ride to another state to play slot machines."

You can click here to read the story on nj.com.
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