New Jersey Racing Industry Topic of High-Level Meeting

High-ranking New Jersey politicians and members of the horse racing industry will meet Nov. 12 in Trenton to discuss issues vital to the health of the racing and breeding industry, including the uncertain future of Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.

At the meeting, which could include Gov. Jim McGreevey, the status of off-track wagering and account betting, plus the question of whether to install video lottery terminals at tracks despite fierce opposition from the Atlantic City casino industry, could be discussed.

"We want to pull together all the players, industry representatives, and other interested parties so that we can take a hard look at the future of the industry in the state--where we need to be and what we need to do--and then provide recommendations," said Micah Rasmussen, a spokesman for McGreevey.

New Jersey tracks face an imminent competitive threat from New York tracks, which could have VLTs operating in the spring, and Pennsylvania, which has several slots bills pending in the legislature. However, some Garden State lawmakers are insisting VLTs are the same as slot machines, and thus under current law are only permitted in Atlantic City unless a constitutional amendment is approved by voters. The earliest that question could be put on a ballot is November 2004.

Monmouth and Meadowlands are operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which has talked about selling the tracks to private concerns.