Jersey Wagering Bill Passes, But Veto Looms

Both houses of the New Jersey legislature approved a measure to authorize account wagering and off-track betting in the state, but Gov. Christine Whitman plans to veto it, according to her spokesman.

The bill passed the Assembly on a 66-13 vote, and the Senate on a 27-11 vote, on Thursday. It would allow up to 15 OTB parlors, authorize account wagering, and mandate 170 live Thoroughbred racing days per year.

The measure has been opposed by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. The NJSEA believes splits that eventually could give horsemen 40% of some of the revenue are not equitable.

The bill's passage came after a quick turnaround. Earlier this year, it appeared Thoroughbred horsemen, who were blamed-they say unfairly-by the NJSEA and Standardbred interests for stalling the legislation in the first place, would be left out in the cold. But in recent weeks, changes to benefit the Thoroughbred industry were made in the bill, and it sailed through the legislative process.

Whitman's spokesman, Peter McDonough, told the press the governor plans to veto the bill, which means the revenue splits could be revisited.