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(TRENTON) – Assembly Democratic lawmakers continued their push Monday to enhance New Jersey’s casino gaming and horse racing industries, as the Assembly approved five bills to – among other things – enable Internet wagering, create an Atlantic City tourism district, modernize casino regulations and boost race horse breeding in New Jersey.
The 5-bill package builds on previous Assembly Democratic efforts to help the key industries remain strong and competitive.
“The casino and horse racing industries are crucial to job creation and economic development in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who chairs the Assembly Regulatory and Oversight Committee that crafted the bills. “We’ve now taken great steps toward ensuring these industries remain competitive and strong economic engines for years to come. But our work here is never finished, and we will continue to monitor our progress and make changes as needed to keep New Jersey a strong gaming and horse racing destination.”
The bills are sponsored by Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic), Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) and Annette Quijano (D-Union).
The bills would:
· Establish the Casino Gaming Study Commission consisting of 13 public members to evaluate the impact of all casino industry legislation and reforms enacted since the beginning of 2010, as well as recently enacted casino gaming statutory revisions, regulatory reforms and technological reforms and explore the future prospects for casino expansion to Bergen County (AJR-65). It’s sponsored by Caputo, Oliver, Burzichelli and Wagner and was approved 60-16. It has not received Senate consideration.
“We need to ensure a strong Atlantic City, but we also need to ensure we have a comprehensive statewide vision for gaming in New Jersey,” Caputo said. “As we move forward in the years ahead, we need to keep the big picture in mind and this commission will ensure our future includes a comprehensive gaming plan.”
“Everyone backs a competitive Atlantic City, but other areas of the state also rely on a strong gaming industry,” Wagner said. “We need to keep a statewide vision in mind as we take stock of our progress and move forward in the years ahead.”
· Enable New Jersey residents to place wagers on Atlantic City casino games via the Internet (A-2570). Sponsored by Burzichelli and Quijano. It was approved 63-11-3 and requires final legislative approval from the Senate.
“Clearly our casinos need to keep up with the times if they’re to be successful economic engines for our state for years to come,” Burzichelli said. “We need to ensure casinos keep pace with the technology and competition, so in that regard this bill makes sense. Casinos, just like all other industries, operate in the global marketplace, and in this day and age that includes the Internet.”
“Any viable business takes advantage of the expanded consumer base offered by the Internet, and casinos should be no different,” Quijano said. “Our casinos, if they’re to remain strong, need to keep pace with technology and the competition if they’re to continue creating jobs and growing our economy. This bill ensures that will happen when it comes to Internet gaming that’s bound to become more prevalent.”
· Improve and modernize casino industry regulation. Under the bill, various regulatory matters currently with the Casino Control Commission would become the responsibility of the Division of Gaming Enforcement in the Department of Law and Public Safety (A-3517). Sponsored by Burzichelli and Caputo. It passed 67-9 and requires final legislative approval from the Senate.
· Establish a special dedicated fund in the Department of Law and Public Safety to provide incentives for the breeding and development of racehorses in this state (A-3531). Sponsored by Burzichelli. It passed 69-4-4. It needs final legislative approval from the Senate.
“A strong horse racing industry will follow a strong breeding program,” Burzichelli said. “New Jersey is already one of the leading horse breeding states in the nation, but a fund like this will only help ensure a stronger industry moving forward. That will create jobs and economic growth that will benefit everyone.”
· Establish the Atlantic City Tourism District, broaden powers and duties of Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and transfer the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority and its functions to the CRDA (A-3581). Sponsored by Burzichelli and Caputo. It passed 71-5 and requires final legislative approval from the Senate.
“This is an effort to try something new to ensure a friendly, clean and safe casino district that will feature smart redevelopment and in and of itself promote Atlantic City and its offerings,” Burzichelli said.
“I continue to insist that northern New Jersey be included in discussion about the future of gaming in our state, but I also am a big proponent of a strong Atlantic City and the benefits it brings to our economy,” Caputo said.
Previously acted upon gaming and horse racing bills:
· Propose a constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature by law to allow wagering at Atlantic City casinos and at horse racetracks on sports events (ACR-167). It goes voters in November 2011 election.
· Make 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 (A-1705). It has final legislative approval.
· Prohibit the Motor Vehicle Commission from inspecting buses on casino-owned property and designated casino parking, pick-up, or drop-off locations (A-2845). Sponsored by Burzichelli, Milam, Albano and Riley. It was approved by the Assembly.
· Authorize exchange wagering on results of in-state and out-of-state horse races. 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 (A-2926). It has final legislative approval.
· Permit racetrack permit holders to provide for a single pari-mutuel pool for each running or harness horse race (A-3200). It has final legislative approval.
· Authorize Internet account wagering for residents outside New Jersey on in-state horse races (A-3498). It was approved by the Assembly.
· Allow casinos and out-of-state racetracks to negotiate the amount casinos will pay for simulcast races (A-3580). It was approved by the Assembly.