Racing-Related Bills Clear NJ Committees

A bill authorizing small offtrack betting operations in bars and restaurants, and another measure giving Atlantic City Race Course a larger chunk of revenue from casino race books, passed New Jersey legislative committees Jan. 5.

The OTB bill was amended before it passed Assembly and Senate committees. It now calls for up to 12 mini OTB parlors rather than 60, and states only the purchaser or lessee of state-owned racetracks—Meadowlands and Monmouth Park—can apply for licenses to operate the OTBs.

The facilities could only be located in northern and central New Jersey. The New Jersey Racing Commission would oversee the three-year pilot program.

The mini parlors would be in addition to full-scale OTB parlors, of which 15 can be opened in New Jersey. Only three have opened thus far.

The ACRC-related measure is a modified bill from 2011. It would award 90% of the Casino Simulcasting Special Fund to ACRC for capital improvements and “additional live racing day expenses.” In the first two years of receiving the funds, however, the southern New Jersey track must spend 75% on capital improvements.

The NJRC would distribute the remaining 10% to Monmouth and Freehold Raceway.

According to NJRC statistics, roughly $1.2 million in revenue from race books at Atlantic City casinos will be available in 2012. Thus ACRC would be eligible for $1.08 million, about $750,000 of which would have to be used for capital improvements.

ACRC management has said it would like to increase the number of race days—it offers six a year now—but has been hampered by a lack of funding.

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