Whitman Vetoes Jersey Account Betting Bill

New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman conditionally vetoed legislation Thursday that would have allowed off-track and account wagering in the state.

The legislation passed both the House and Senate earlier this summer, and had been awaiting action by Whitman. It now goes back to the legislature, which can override Whitman's veto, concur with her decision, or do nothing, in which case the bill will die.

If the legislature makes any changes to the bill, it would have to go back to the House and Senate for approval. The legislature has until Jan. 11, 2002 to act.

In her veto, Whitman suggested reduction in the amount of required live Thoroughbred racing dates from 170 to 120, to be run by only Monmouth Park and Meadowlands. She didn't include Garden State Park or Atlantic City Race Course. For Standardbred racing, Whitman made no mention of Garden State, and in fact suggested harness dates be reduced.

Whitman also recommended the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority be the sole entity eligible to hold off-track and account-wagering licenses, and that it be entitled to secure liquor licenses directly from the state, rather than localities, to expedite construction and opening of OTB outlets, of which there could be 15.

The amount of revenue to Thoroughbred horsemen from OTB parlors on in-state simulcast signals was reduced by Whitman from 6% to 5.8%.
"We support the governor's conditional veto and we hope that the legislature concurs with her decision," read a brief statement issued by the NJSEA, which operates Monmouth and Meadowlands.

"The Thoroughbred horsemen are disappointed with Whitman's conditional veto," said Mark Fleder, general counsel for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "There are provisions suggested which would appear to be in the opposite direction from promoting the best interests of Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey."