OTB, Account Betting Bill Moves Ahead in Jersey

The New Jersey Assembly on Thursday approved legislation to legalize off-track and account wagering in the state. The measure now moves to the Senate floor.

The Newark Star-Ledger reported the Assembly vote was 47-5. Former Gov. Christine Whitman vetoed similar legislation last September, and since then the legislation has undergone changes in committee.

Assemblyman Joseph Roberts of Camden said off-track betting could generate between $300 million and $400 million a year. The bill calls for up to 15 wagering facilties, but no more than eight in the first two years after the bill becomes law.

In addition, home rule will be maintained -- municipalities would retain the right to reject proposed locations, and parlor operators must apply for local liquor licenses. The home-rule issue helped stall the measure last year.

Currently, racetracks in the state are operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (Meadowlands and Monmouth Park), Pennwood Racing (Freehold Raceway), and the Atlantic City Racing Association (Atlantic City Race Course). Earlier this year, industry officials said they expect the parlors and account wagering operation to be cohesive throughout New Jersey.