Jersey Governor Forms Racing Study Panel

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed an executive order March 5 creating a commission to study the state’s horse racing industry and develop solutions for its long-term viability. The casino industry, which for years has subsidized horse racing in the state, will be involved in preparing the blueprint.

The 15-member commission is charged with finding solutions for racing after 2010, when the latest casino subsidy expires. Its report is due to the governor by July 1, 2010.

“The horse racing industry plays an important role in New Jersey, from preserving open space to attracting visitors to our state,” Corzine said in a statement. “I have named representatives from the horse racing and casino industries to this commission because it is essential for the gaming industry to work together to find a long-term funding solution that will allow both racing and casino gaming to thrive in New Jersey.”

Formation of a study group was part of the three-year gaming subsidy agreement that took effect in 2008. Lawmakers with racetracks and breeding farms in their districts last year called on Corzine to create the commission as soon as possible.

The commission members are chairman Robert Bildner, who heads a food distribution company; Jordan Glatt, mayor of the city of Summit; Tom Luchento, president of  the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey; Dennis Drazin, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; Mark Juliano of Trump Hotels and Casinos; and David Satz of Harrah’s Entertainment.

In addition, there are five executives from state government: Dennis Robinson, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Meadowlands and Monmouth Park; Thomas Carver,executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority; state Treasurer David Rousseau; Jerry Zaro, chief of the Office of Economic Growth; and Caren Franzini, executive director of the Economic Development Authority.

Finally, the Senate President will appoint one member of the Senate and one member of the public, while the Speaker of the General Assembly will appoint one member of the Assembly and one member of the public.

The state's two privately owned racetracks--Atlantic City Race Course and Freehold Raceway--aren't represented on the commission. They are owned by Pennsylvania-based gaming companies and have been involved in disputes over casino purse subsidies.

The governor’s executive order notes the horse racing industry employs 3,820 people, generates $31 million in taxes and fees for the state, and promotes about 176,000 acres of green space.

It also states the racing and gaming industries in the state have experienced reductions in revenue, and the purse agreements between racetracks and casinos “were not designed to address the long-term viability of the horse racing industry.”

Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey begins April 16 at Atlantic City and moves to Monmouth in early May. Harness racing began in January at Freehold and Meadowlands. 

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