Talk of Slots or VLTs at Jersey Racetracks Continues

by Linda Dougherty and Tom LaMarra

The push for alternative gaming at racetracks continues in New Jersey.

Legislation to authorize slot machines at four racetracks in the state was introduced earlier this year and had one hearing. Other measures call for slot machines at Meadowlands only.

Bills sponsored by Senators Richard Codey and Joseph Suliga, and Assemblymen Joseph Roberts Jr. and Albio Siros call for slots at Meadowlands under amendment to the state constitution. The Assembly measure calls for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to issue a license to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition authority for up to 3,000 slot machines.

Meanwhile, Dennis Drazin, counsel for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said chances might be better for video lottery terminals.

"I think it is much more likely that VLTs rather than slots will be legalized in New Jersey," said Drazin, an attorney and Thoroughbred owner. "The issue of slots would have to be placed on a ballot and voted on, while VLTs would be through the lottery system and wouldn't need a constitutional amendment to be implemented."

Delaware and West Virginia are two states that have gone that route. Racetrack VLTs there fall under the auspices of the state lottery.

Drazin said it's his understanding that the NJSEA has conducted a poll that showed if slots were limited to only racetracks or just to Meadowlands in North Jersey, it would pass on the public ballot.