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SBOA/NJ issues statement about report

July 21, 2010

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The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey has issued a statement following the announcement of recommendations from a New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Advisory Commission, which was chaired by former New Jersey Exposition and Sports Authority chairman Jon Hanson.
The Hanson report included a review of the horse racing industry and called for "Creation of a Sustainable Industry Structure to Preserve Live Horseracing." It contains a couple of novel ideas for doing so, particularly in regard to New Jersey's harness racing industry.
Although the section devoted to horse racing is brief, it contains three specific suggestions for harness racing: leasing the Meadowlands Racetrack to a Standardbred ownership/horsemen's group for "$1 a year for three years with early termination rights and an equity-based share of the (proposed) Bayonne OTW parlor;" converting a Standardbred training center "that has a mile track" into a pari-mutuel racetrack by building a 5,000-seat grandstand; and operating 70 Standardbred racing dates at Monmouth Park.
The SBOA's statement follows:
"Our preliminary reaction to the Hanson Report  is that promises to provide for the future of horse racing and horse farms may have been broken. We do not want to be dependent on state subsidies. We want a new gaming model with quality racing and a chance to revitalize our product.
"Yet the Hanson Commission that prepared the report for Governor Chris Christie was never allowed to consider slots or video lottery terminals at New Jersey's racetrack. Without alternate gaming as an option, the racing and breeding industry is handcuffed.
"We do not want to be on state welfare. We want to build a new gaming model with slots at our tracks the same as Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and other states. This is not a speculative solution. It is a proven business plan that has benefited every state that has introduced racinos and whose governors and legislators have been able to lower taxes with the revenue from gaming.
"The Report fails to discuss the loss to the state of the thousands of acres dedicated to equine operations in New Jersey which will relocate to more business-friendly states.
"We do not understand why the state would be willing to spend taxpayer money to protect private companies, such as the casinos in Atlantic City and the investors in Xanadu, while at the same time dismissing the racing industry as unimportant.
"It has been popular lately to bash the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority and the horse racing industry. We hope we are wrong and see a more equitable and reasoned treatment of racing when we have a chance to review the full report.
"We look forward to Senate President Sweeney's Gaming Summit in August where a rational and global plan for all New Jersey gaming will be discussed."
Click here to read the report.
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