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(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli to expand and boost off-track wagering in New Jersey was signed into law Friday.

The new law (formerly A-1705) makes several changes to New Jersey’s off-track wagering statute, most notably allowing entities other than the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to run the facilities.

Under the law, qualified and well-suited entities will participate in a public bidding process to earn the rights to operate off-track wagering facilities, expanding off-track wagering and opening it to new opportunities.

“Off-track wagering hasn’t taken off as successfully as it should have, and clearly it hasn’t helped our horse racing industry as much as we had hoped,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “One of the reasons for that is existing law had proven too cumbersome. This new law will correct that, allowing off-track wagering to reach its full potential in our state.”

Off-track wagering in New Jersey was authorized by a 2001 law. The law allowed betting at 15 locales, but so far only three are operational.

Burzichelli said the changes made by his new law will allow places such as restaurants to offer off-track wagering, provided they meet the strict requirements under the new law.

“Making off-track wagering more widely accessible will only help generate interest in our horse racing industry,” Burzichelli said. “Previously, that hadn’t happened, but these changes help bring off-track wagering within reach of more New Jersey sports and horse racing fans without hurting attendance at our tracks, which can only be viewed as a good thing.”

Revenue from the winning bids would be dedicated to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Standardbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association of New Jersey.