New Jersey Poll Shows Support for Racetrack Gaming

A Quinnipiac University Poll released April 2 indicates support for the addition of video lottery terminals and/or slot machines at state racetracks, both as a tool for balancing the state budget and to help the state's struggling horse racing industry.

In all, 1,059 New Jersey residents voters were polled, and the results showed 57% support the installation of VLTs or slots, while 65% said they didn't feel the VLTs or slots would hurt the state's Atlantic City casino industry.

"As a taxpayer and horseman, I would much rather see video lottery terminals or slot machines at our state racetracks, rather than seeing an increase in my income, sales, or property taxes," said Francis "Bud" Keegan Jr., president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

"As a horse owner and breeder with a farm located in Atlantic County, I'm surprised that our southern New Jersey legislators don't support this proposal," said Joseph Imbesi, owner of Briardale Farm near Estell Manor. "There are acres and acres of equine-related farmland in Atlantic, Burlington, Gloucester, and Camden counties, and from Ocean County south to Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem counties.

"This is the farm belt, and these legislators should want to keep it this way. It angers me that they dismiss our industry because it is not as big as the casino industry."
Barbara DeMarco Reiche, lobbyist for the state's Thoroughbred industry, said that, based on the poll numbers, a ballot question should be put to voters in the November election. Recently, a spokesperson for Gov. Jim McGreevey said potential revenue from VLTs at racetracks was not being considered as part of the 2004 budget, though McGreevey had been considering VLTs to help plug a huge state budget deficit.