NJ Legislation Would Authorize Instant Racing

The bill would allow the devices at racetracks, off-track betting sites, and casinos.

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill to authorize historical race wagering, also called Instant Racing, at racetracks, off-track wagering facilities, and casinos in the state.

Republican Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, who frequently sponsors racing-related legislation, said historical race wagering could "attract new interest in horse racing and gaming." The New Jersey Racing Commission would oversee the machines, which would be considered pari-mutuel because all wagers are pooled and the results of on-screen games are based on the results of recycled races.

The legislation doesn't call for changes to the state constitution.

The bill sets the maximum takeout rate at 20%, though it can be lower if racetracks and horsemen agree. Of that amount the racetrack or casino would get 65%, purses would earn 16%, and breeders' awards would get 1%. Another 15% would go to "race technology fees" and 3% to simulcast fees.

Permit holders would be responsible for "operating expenses, marketing, and awards not to exceed 25% of win," the bill states.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement would work in conjunction with the NJRC in licensing Atlantic City casinos interested in offering historical race wagering at their simulcast facilities. Less than half of the city's casinos now have racebooks.

Along with the four racetracks in New Jersey, there are four OTW facilities, with another expected to open this fall in southern New Jersey.

"We have begun a new era of cooperation between horsemen and casinos," Dancer said in a release. "These two industries, which have been important parts of New Jersey's heritage and economy, can find innovative ways that will benefit the bottom lines of both."

Historical race wagering is legal in Arkansas and earlier in June was legalized via legislative action in Oregon. Two Kentucky tracks operate the machines under Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations, but a public-policy group is challenging the games in court.

The machines produce a fraction of the revenue generated by the slot machines or video lottery terminals that populate casinos.

"We can increase revenue for casinos, horse tracks, and the state, while exposing a new generation of fans to the excitement of horse racing," Dancer said. "The innovative electronic instant racing machines are attracting younger, video-oriented people to the sport."