(More, Bergen Record)
After making changes that allocated more money to purses and less to track operators, legislation to allow up to 15 off-track betting parlors and telephone account wagering was advanced by a key New Jersey Assembly committee on Monday. The Assembly's gaming and tourism committee approved the bill after hours of debate over two different versions of the legislation. It was the second time the committee heard testimony on the bill. The bill's co-sponsor, Sen. Martha Bark, is the committee chairperson. The original measure gave the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority a 67%-33% share of the revenue split and the right to set up off-track betting parlors without meeting local zoning rules, buying liquor licenses from the town or paying taxes.The version which was approved gives the thoroughbred industry a rising scale of off-track wagering revenues over three years to purses, beginning at 36% the first year and increasing to 40% by the third. The approved measure also requires racetrack operators to run a minimum of 170 live racing days to keep their OTB permits, and requires the NJSEA to meet local zoning laws, pay property taxes and obtain a liquor licenses only where one is available. The NJSEA operates Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.