New Jersey OTB Legislation Stalls in Committee

Legislation that would legalize off-track and account wagering in New Jersey stalled in a Senate committee Thursday when lawmakers decided to hold the bill up until they can come to a resolution on municipal issues.

The issues currently under discussion involve zoning and planning issues, not issues directly related to the horsemen. The bill is scheduled to come up for consideration again on June 11, with the legislature set to adjourn July 1.

"No one wants a conditional veto again," said Barbara DeMarco-Reiche, lobbyist for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. She indicated that, after 2 1/2 years of trying to pass the legislation, all parties involved wanted to iron out their differences before the legislation moves to the governor's desk for his signature. Last September, former Gov. Christine Whitman vetoed such legislation.

The current bill would authorize up to 15 off-track betting sites, all to be run by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns and operates Monmouth Park and Meadowlands. The bill requires that NJSEA-owned tracks run a minimum of 141 days of live Thoroughbred racing through 2004, and a minimum of 120 beginning in 2005.