Jersey Governor OKs Purse Supplements

New Jersey's governor has signed a casino purse supplement into law.

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation April 11 that allows a $90-million purse supplement for New Jersey racetracks to move forward.

The measure, which awards horse racing $30 million a year for three years from casino revenue, also grants the Atlantic City casinos a tax break on promotional gaming credits. The casinos and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Monmouth Park and Meadowlands, must produce a signed agreement.

How the $30 million a year will be divvied up remains to be seen, but it is believed Thoroughbred interests would get $15 million and Standardbred interests $15 million. Under a previous four-year supplement deal with the casinos, the money went to Monmouth and Meadowlands for Thoroughbred meets, and Meadowlands and Freehold Raceway for harness meets.

The wild card in negotiations is Atlantic City Race Course, which next year has been ordered by the New Jersey Racing Commission to offer 20 days of racing. Atlantic City officials have told The Blood-Horse they intend to continue racing after this year but need a portion of the supplement to offer longer meets.

There is some friction between Atlantic City and horsemen who want to see the Monmouth meet bolstered as much as possible.

Atlantic City this year will race six days, all on the turf, beginning April 23. The track gets all of its purse revenue from year-round simulcasts and an off-track betting parlor in Vineland. Last year, Atlantic City paid out more than $600,000 in purses for a four-day meet.

Earlier this year, before the casino deal became reality, Freehold Raceway cut purses, and the NJSEA added money to the purse account at Meadowlands to avoid cuts. The tracks in the state argue they need the money to supplement purses so they remain competitive with neighboring states in which purses are subsidized by gaming revenue.

“We applaud the governor for signing this bill,” Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, said in an April 11 statement. “It is another step in the supplement process that will lead to the allocation of the funds to racing.”