Monmouth Park is in jeopardy of closing due to a dispute over the licensing of thoroughbred races at the Meadowlands, according to a report in The Star Ledger.
The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associated successfully negotiated for the rights to the Meadowlands races on June 21. Now the investor slated to take over the Meadowlands track, Jeffrey Gural, wants the rights back because he didn’t realize he was giving up proceeds of off-track wagering on the races. Evidently, the Christie administration is siding with Gural and is refusing to issue the license to the horsemen.
The Meadowlands license impacts Monmouth Park because races licensed for the Meadowlands are frequently transferred to Monmouth.
As a result of the dispute, Morris Baily, the investor slated to take over Monmouth Park from the state, says he wants out of the deal, according to the Ledger.
The parties would have a lot more money to fight over, while keeping the tracks open, if slots were permitted at the racetracks, as they are in a growing number of tracks throughout the region.
Assemblyman Ronald Dancer has introduced two pieces of legislation that would permit slots at racetracks.
A-4294 directs the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), in consultation with the New Jersey Racing Commission, to implement and oversee slot machine gambling operations at horse racing venues.
ACR-209 is a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment that gives the Legislature the authority to establish slot machine gambling at racetracks. If approved by voters, the specific restrictions and control of operations of slot machines, as well as the use of the State’s share of revenues derived from the machines, would be provided by law.
“Both proposals represent an incentive for the major stakeholders in this issue – the casino and horse racing industries – to come together and work out a fair and mutually beneficial agreement. Allowing slot machines at racetracks will generate revenues that will help both industries,” said Dancer. “One industry’s success does not have to be at the expense of the other. Permitting slot machines at racing venues will preserve and enhance both.
“One unique aspect of these bills is that the DGE will consult with the Racing Commission in overseeing the operation of slot machines, without the involvement of the New Jersey Lottery Commission which exists currently,” explained Dancer. “As a result, the proceeds from expanding slots at the racetracks would not be diluted to another commission, but distributed to the industries for which they are intended.
I am open to either approach in deciding this issue. We can allow the voters to determine if amending New Jersey’s Constitution is appropriate or work through the legislative process,” commented Dancer. “The casino and horse racing industries are important parts of our state’s economy. I am confident we can reach a reasonable solution as to how we can capitalize on the market potential slot machines at racetracks will produce.”
Dancer pointed out the benefits New Jersey’s horse racing industry provides to the state, including jobs, tax revenue and preserving open space. According to the Rutgers Equine Center, horse racing employs over 7,000 workers and contributes nearly $800 million to the state’s economy. Further, 34,000 acres of the state’s 176,000 farmland acres are attributable to the horse racing industry.
Unfortunately, Dancer’s legislation has little chance of becoming law, as Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney are opposed to allowing slots in New Jersey anywhere outside of Atlantic City.