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(PARAMUS) — As the Legislature prepares to convene an historic gaming summit, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, who has been named to the panel, today underscored the need for New Jersey to focus serious attention on bringing Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) to the Meadowlands to help revitalize an ailing industry and infuse the state’s coffers with much-needed revenue.

“The time for pontification has passed. We’ve read all the studies and we’ve felt the collective breath of competition from neighboring states on our neck,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “In today’s precarious economy, we cannot afford to turn our backs on an opportunity to create a new revenue windfall for the Garden State while preserving the more than 7,000 jobs created by the agribusiness industry.

“Video lottery terminals at our racetracks are the proverbial ‘win-win’ needed to help resuscitate our racing industry and alleviate the burden on casinos to help bolster race purses. With this year’s anaemic budget fresh in our minds, it would be unwise for us to simply ignore a venture that could generate significant dollars for the state, countless jobs, and an additional source of revenue for casinos if we allow them to serve as operators of the VLTs. We already have investors that are willing and eager to pay New Jersey half of a billion dollars for the opportunity to invest in VLTs. If the casino industry doesn’t recognize this valuable opportunity to expand, then perhaps we should start entertaining bids from interested investors?”

Assemblywoman Wagner pointed to Ontario’s Lottery and Gaming Program as a prime example of the potential impact VLTs could have on New Jersey. In the eight years after Ontario installed VLTs at racetracks in 2000, standardbred horse purses increased by roughly 254 percent over the eight years prior to slot installation; thoroughbred horse purses increased 115 percent in that same period.

“We have a business model that’s no longer sustainable. Race purses are reliant on subsidies from the casinos; casinos are losing money to neighboring competition and an ailing economy; Xanadu is stuck in no-man’s land and the New Jersey Sports Authority is seeking a state bailout to remain afloat,” added Wagner. “The upcoming gaming summit put together by our leadership is a prime opportunity for us to address this delicate situation and how video lottery terminals can serve as a critical part of the solution.”

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