Governor Chris Christie yesterday moved forward with his commitment to making horse racing in New Jersey a self-sustaining industry by signing legislation to expedite the establishment of off-track wagering facilities in New Jersey. Another step forward comes early next week, when the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will issue a request for proposals to bring a long-term solution to Monmouth Park through private operation.
On December 17, 2010, Governor Christie announced a break-through agreement to end public subsidies of operations and purses for Standardbred racing at the Meadowlands Racetrack through the lease of that facility to the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (SBOA). Governor Christie is looking forward to similar progress with Monmouth Park and Thoroughbred racing there with the RFP for a private operator.
“We were successful in the Meadowlands, and we can do the same for Monmouth Park to the benefit of New Jersey taxpayers,” Governor Christie said. “I want to see a vibrant but self-sustaining horse racing industry in New Jersey, but that can be accomplished without tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies every year.”
Assembly Bill 1705, which Governor Christie conditionally vetoed on January 31 and the Legislature subsequently amended to include the Governor's recommended changes, removes barriers to the establishment of OTWs by permitting persons other than racetrack operators to run OTW facilities, making OTWs a permitted use in all municipal land use zones, and increasing the accessibility to liquor licenses for OTW operators.
Despite enactment of an original OTW law nearly a decade ago, only three of the 15 facilities allowed by law were established. Governor Christie’s conditional veto was necessary to preserve the NJSEA’s ability to transfer licenses in connection with the sale or lease of the state’s racetracks. It also eliminated a 1 percent fee on OTW operators, but expressly noted that the Administration will work with the Legislature to find an alternative source of revenue for OTW host municipalities