New Jersey Casinos May Pay Racetracks $86 Million

New Jersey's casinos are near a deal that would boost purses at the state's three racetracks in exchange for the tracks delaying their plans to install video lottery terminals.

The proposal calls for the casinos to pay $86 million in subsidies over the next four years for Monmouth Park, Freehold Raceway, and the Meadowlands.

Proponents say the money would help the tracks put on high-quality races with more entries per race and generate more betting revenue, but critics claim the terminals would be more beneficial to the horse racing industry in the long run.

"It's not a done deal yet, but very close ... I'm very confident we've got a deal," said George Zoffinger, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park.

Dennis Gomes, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, would not comment on the negotiations, but sources familiar with the talks said the deal also includes other financial incentives for the casino industry.

New Jersey's horse racing industry has faltered over the past few years, and industry officials have blamed Atlantic City's casinos, which have been around for 25 years now. The slot-machine-like video lottery terminals are seen as a way to lure bettors back to the tracks.