While no specific election in New Jersey on Tuesday figures to have any direct impact on pending slots legislation, New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association lobbyist Barbara DeMarco-Reiche said elections in neighboring states are sure to have "a tremendous impact" on New Jersey racing.
"The fact that a pro-slots governor in both Pennsylvania and Maryland were elected will have a tremendous impact on horse racing in New Jersey," Reiche said. "When slots are legalized in those states, politicians will watch as tracks such as Philadelphia Park, Laurel, Pimlico and two proposed tracks in Chester County, Pa. start to siphon away money from Atlantic City."
Reiche said a recent study found that, if slots are legalized in Pennsylvania, they could siphon off as much as 45 percent of current revenue from the Atlantic City casinos.
"New Jersey will have to act on this soon," she said.
Currently, there are two bills pending that propose alternative gaming at state racetracks. The first, co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Doria of Hudson County, has had one public hearing in Trenton, while the other, co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Codey, has been pre-filed and would limit slots to just the Meadowlands.
In New Jersey, any legalization of slot machines would have to be placed on a public ballot and voted on, while video lottery terminals (VLTs) would be under the auspices of the lottery system and wouldn't need a constitutional amendment to be implemented. Horsemen feel that VLTs represent their best chances of getting alternative gaming in the immediate future.