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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli, Connie Wagner, Craig Coughlin and Annette Quijano to boost New Jersey’s struggling horse racing industry were approved Monday by the Senate.
One bill (A-1705) sponsored by Burzichelli would expand and boost off-track wagering in New Jersey. It was approved 32-1 by the Senate.
The other (A-2926) sponsored by Wagner, Coughlin, Burzichelli and Quijano would authorize exchange wagering on results of in-state and out-of-state horse races. It was approved 34-1 by the Senate.
Both bills were previously approved by the Assembly, but will need further Assembly consideration to concur with minor amendments to the bills.
Burzichelli’s bill (A-1705) would make several changes to New Jersey’s off-track wagering statute, most notably allowing the entities other than the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to run the facilities. Qualified and well-suited entities would earn the rights to off-track wagering through a public bidding process, 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 our current law has proven too cumbersome. We can change this rather easily with this bill, which I hope becomes part of the discussion in the weeks ahead as we devise a plan for the future of gaming in our state.”
Exchange wagering is defined as a form of betting in which two or more persons place directly opposing wagers on the outcome of a horse race.
Exchange wagering allows a bettor to wager on a selected outcome occurring, and another bettor to wager on that same outcome not occurring.
Those identically opposing wagers are matched when a bettor lays a selected outcome at the same price at which another bettor backs that same outcome, with the total amount subject to the lay being wholly commensurate to the total amount subject to the back.
“Expanding wagering options can only help boost our horse racing industry and tracks and ensure New Jersey stays a step ahead of the rest of the nation when it comes to innovative approaches,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “This is a step forward for New Jersey horse racing.”
“This bill will ensure this new option for horse wagering in our state is properly regulated and safeguarded,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “It’s an exciting new option that will keep New Jersey ahead of the pack.”
“This is just another way to help our horse racing industry,” Burzichelli said. “This is simply another option and another way to build interest in the races, which can only help the industry as we move forward with a more modern racing model for our state.”
“By becoming the first state in the country to allow exchange wagering, New Jersey is once again at the forefront of the gaming industry,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This bill will be a boon for the horse racing industry and the local communities which support it.”
Under the bill (A-2926), once the outcome of the race is determined, funds would be transferred from the exchange wagering account of the bettor who lost the wager to that of the bettor who won the wager, and applicable transaction or other fees would be levied by the exchange wagering licensee for use and distribution as provided by the commission’s rules and regulations.
The bill would authorize the New Jersey Racing Commission to issue a license to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to establish an exchange wagering system. The issuance of the license is subject to the approval of the New Jersey Attorney General.
Off-track wagering in New Jersey was authorized by a 2001 law. The law allowed it at 15 locales, but so far only three are operational.
Burzichelli said the changes in the bill would allow places such as restaurants to offer off-track wagering, provided they meet the strict requirements in the bill.
“Making off-track wagering more widely accessible can only help generate interest in our horse racing industry,” Burzichelli said. “That hasn’t happened under our current law, but with these changes we can make off-track wagering within reach of more New Jersey sports and horse racing fans without hurting attendance at our tracks, and that can only be 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.
Applicants would have to receive approval from the municipal planning board, and off-track wagering licensees also would be required to pay to the host municipality 4 percent of their net wagering profits.
“This is a no-lose idea based on common sense,” Burzichelli said. “It would increase interest in horse racing and allow municipalities to benefit from hosting these facilities by giving them new revenue to help combat property taxes.”