Instant Racing Bill advances in NJ Senate

06:08 AM 11 Dec 2013 NZDT
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SBOANJ President Tom Luchento (bottom) and AJ Sabath (top) of Advocacy & Management Group for the Meadowlands. testifying before the New Jersey Senate State

MANALAPAN, NJ - December 10, 2013 - Legislation to create Instant Racing at New Jersey's racetracks was released from committee on Monday, December 9, 2013.

The action was taken by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee in Committee Room 7 of the State House Annex in Trenton.

Among those testifying on behalf of the Senate Bill 2935 was Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey President Tom Luchento.

"I urge you to support Senate bill S 2935," Luchento told the committee. "In late 2010, the Governor, following the recommendation of the Hanson report, moved to privatize horse racing in New Jersey. The standardbred industry secured Jeff Gural to take the Meadowlands racetrack off the state's hands. He privatized the track and built a new grandstand, modernizing and upgrading the race experience. That facility opened just two weeks ago to rave reviews. We have, as the Governor asked, taken control of our own destiny.

"We are here today to ask your help in completing that plan," he continued. "We still lag behind the surrounding states that have alternative gaming at their tracks. We are not asking for that today but what we are asking for is a new and exciting way to wager on horse races through instant racing machines. We are not asking for anything from the state but rather just a chance to help ourselves. This would also grow the economy and add jobs to New Jersey. The revenue from our game would be put back into the purses and operational overhead to make racing self sufficient.

"We have already lost most of the breeding industry in our state, as stallions have moved to better programs in surrounding states, and, this summer, Perretti Farms announced their complete dispersal of horses and the farm will close this December 31," Luchento added. "This pari-mutuel game will give us the chance to revitalize our breeding industry and bring stallions back to New Jersey."

Instant [also known as historic] Racing permits the bettor to make wagers on races that have been previously contested. The bettor is provided data about the horses but not the names and dates.

In addition to Luchento, testimony was provided by AJ Sabath, on behalf of Jeff Gural; Dennis Drazin, representing Monmouth Park and thoroughbred horsemen; Michael Campbell for the thoroughbred breeders and Louis A. Cella, vice president and CEO of the Oaklawn Jockey Club who is also vice president of RaceTech LLC, which operates the historic/instant racing pari-mutuel racing system which debuted at Oaklawn in January 2000.

Cella pointed out that with the additional funds generated by Instant Racing, Oaklawn increased its purse distribution from $140,000 a day in 2000 to $400,000 a day for 2014.

Gural's statement pointed out that "Instant Racing will provide a much needed shot adrenaline to our industry by generating a consistent flow of business at the new grandstand and other tracks throughout the state, during a time when the industry is in much need of continued business. Instant Racing offers a possible new path towards a more sustainable future for New Jersey horse racing."

The bill, approved unanimously, will need to be amended to assure constitutionality and establish which agency would oversee Instant Racing, said Sentor Jim Whelan, who chairs the committee.

by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ

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