Lesniak to reintroduce online betting bill

TRENTON – a state senator said today he will reintroduce legislation that would permit online betting.

In the wake of the demise of Perretti Farms, New Jersey’s largest standardbred horse farm, Sen. Raymond Lesniak, (D-20), said he would reintroduce next week a bill that earlier this year the governor vetoed.

Lesniak said his bill would generate more than $200 million for the casino industry, tens of millions for the state, and help keep the horse racing industry alive as it moves toward being a self-sustaining business.

Christie vetoed the bill, saying at the time that he had concerns about online gaming spreading beyond Atlantic City.

“We cannot turn our backs on the horse tracks and casinos which employ thousands of New Jerseyans and generate billions of dollars in economic activity each year,” Lesniak said in a release. “We have to give this industry the tools and support to be relevant in the 21st century, and by authorizing intrastate online betting, we can provide access to a gaming product which other states have yet to capitalize on. We need to act now, before more of our state’s horse farms or casinos close their doors forever.”

Lesniak said he would tinker with his legislation to address Governor Christie’s veto concern that online gaming not spread beyond Atlantic City. He said he would also direct that temporary purse enhancements for the racing industry come from the additional casino profits rather than from state revenues produced from online gaming, as had been the case in his original legislation.

He added that according to a 2007 study from the Rutgers Equine Science Center, horseracing in New Jersey has a total economic impact of $1.1 billion, and is responsible for nearly 13,000 jobs, $160 million in federal, State and local taxes, and 176,000 acres in preserved farmland.

On Tuesday, Perretti Farms announced it would be going out of business due to the economy and lack of governmental support for the horse racing industry.

When Christie vetoed the bill in March, he suggested that putting the question to a voter referendum would be the appropriate way to deal with the issue of online betting.

Lesniak to reintroduce online betting bill