Gaming bills advance

The Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee released several bills Thursday that are designed to help the horse-racing industry in New Jersey.

The bills, which will proceed to a full Assembly vote, would reduce the minimum number of mandatory standardbred racing dates in favor of fewer but larger events, permit wagers to be placed in advance at racetrack or casino simulcasting sites, and permit the state Sports and Exposition Authority to jointly run racetrack operations with a private entity for a period of time.

“These bills all share one single goal – enhancing our horse racing industry to allow it to continue creating jobs and economic development throughout our state for years to come,” said committee chairman John Burzichelli (D-3rd) of Bridgeton.

“We’ve taken many steps in the past year to improve our horse racing industry, and these bills represent another step toward keeping it strong.”

Last summer, Gov. Christie’s administration unveiled a plan to preserve live standardbred racing at the Meadowlands by turning it into a privately run business.

One of the bills released Thursday would allow the exposition authority to enter into a lease arrangement temporarily during the transition period.

Another would permit wagers to be placed at racetracks or casino simulcasting facilities in advance for races that are not being simulcast at the facility, if the race is being simulcast elsewhere in the state.

Another bill would allow the Meadowlands Racetrack to decrease the annually required minimum number of scheduled standardbred race dates from 141 to 75, upon written consent from the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey.  The bill also would permit Freehold Raceway to decrease the annually required minimum number of scheduled standardbred race dates from 168 to no 75.

Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-30th), of Jackson, testified at the hearing and said that since there can be times when the authority must handle a football game and racetrack events simultaneously the allowing of advance betting is a practical option.