New Jersey Panel to Study VLT Feasibility

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey has announced the creation of a Video Lottery Study Commission that will investigate the feasibility of video lottery terminals at racetracks and give him written recommendations in 90 days.

McGreevey is said to be considering VLTs in part to plug a huge budget deficit without having to raise taxes. Though no horsemen were appointed to the committee, George Zoffinger, chief executive officer and president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, was named as a member.

The commission is made up of seven other members: Former Gov. Brendan Byrne (chairman); Linda Kassekert, chair of the Casino Control Commission; Peter Harvey, Attorney General designate; Susan Cole, president of Montclair State University; Chris Bollwage, mayor of Elizabeth and president of the New Jersey League of Municipalities; James Dieterle, executive director of the New Jersey Chapter of AARP; and Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a professor of law at Seton Hall University.

When asked why no horsemen were appointed, Ellen Mellody, a spokesperson for the governor's office, said: "Gov. McGreevey chose to appoint individuals that have the utmost integrity, strong leadership skills and diverse backgrounds."

While Francis "Bud" Keegan, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, called the committee creation a "positive step" in bringing VLTs to racetracks, one of the staunchest allies of the Atlantic City casino industry had strong words for McGreevey's action.

"VLTs are never going to happen," vowed Sen. Bill Gormley, who represents Atlantic County, where the casinos are located. "All they'll do is cause instability for the casinos and hurt jobs in New Jersey. This committee will do nothing but waste (former) Gov. Byrne's time."