TRENTON – One of the sponsors of a conditionally vetoed horse-racing bill believes the Legislature will approve the governor’s recommended changes when it reconvenes later this year.
Assemblyman Ron Dancer, (R-12), Cream Ridge, said Tuesday he feels confident that A3489/S2540 will win concurrence when lawmakers return to the Statehouse.
The bill addresses the new reality of horse racing in New Jersey, a world in which state subsidies are out and private management increases.
Under the CV’d bill, the holder of a horse racing permit and a horseman’s association could enter into a contract allowing purse monies to be used for the benefit of the industry.
“The broad language of the bill has the potential to adversely impact the overall integrity of New Jersey’s horse racing industry,” Gov. Chris Christie said in his CV message.
“Specifically, the bill’s broad language potentially would allow parties to mask their parochial interests in contractual agreements purported to be in the best interests of the industry.”
Christie recommended inserting language that would provide for approval specifically by the N.J. Racing Commission.
And Dancer sees no problem with that.
According to Dancer, 80 percent of the purse goes to the winning bettors. The rest is divided between a track operator and a horseman’s group.
That arrangement is statutorily dedicated, and this legislation would allow operators and horsemen to enter into contracts to attract top horses, jockeys and races that could improve the industry’s bottom line, Dancer explained.
“In this new era of privatization, it has to be self-sustaining, it can’t be subsidized,” Dancer said.
The bill is designed to provide operators and horsemen flexibility in order to bid on and attract some of racing’s marquee events, such as the Breeders’ Cup, a premier competition for Thoroughbred horses, or the Breeders Crown, which is for harness racing.
“The Sports Authority no longer operates these racetracks,’’ Dancer said. “Horsemen have their own money invested and they need flexibility to be able to get the very top horses to come to New Jersey.” Dancer said that hopefully that would increase the fan base and increase wagering.
Christie CV’d a related bill on Monday, A4149, that would allow horse racing on the beach. He went along with the concept, but objected to wagering on such events.
He said that allowing wagering outside racetracks or Atlantic City needs “careful deliberation.’’
That bill, whose sponsors include Dancer and Assemblyman John Burzichelli, (D-3), West Deptford, immediately went before the Assembly on Monday on concurrence with Christie’s recommendations and was passed.