Lawmakers eye reining in proposed $100M of horseracing subsidies

Daniel J. Munoz//January 28, 2019

Lawmakers eye reining in proposed $100M of horseracing subsidies

Daniel J. Munoz//January 28, 2019

Meadowlands Racetrack and Betfair US team up for retail and online sports betting.

Lawmakers want to curtail $100 million of proposed subsidies to the state’s horse tracks through an amendment that would allow the state Legislature to review whether the subsidies are having their desired effects of boosting the horseracing industry, and whether those subsidies should continue.

The amendment to Assembly Bill 4810 came at the request of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, according to Assembly Appropriations Chair John Burzichelli, D-3rd District.

A4810, which the Assembly Appropriations Committee approved in an 11-0 vote at their Monday meeting, calls for appropriating $20 million of subsidies annually over five years.

According to the bill, 100 percent of the funds for the thoroughbred industry would go towards the Monmouth Park overnight purses.

As for the money going towards the standardbred industry, 60 percent of the funds would go to the overnight purses at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, 16 percent to the purses at the Freehold Raceway in Freehold, 12 percent to the New Jersey Sire Stakes purses, 6 percent to purse bonuses for New Jersey sired horses, and 6 percent for breeders awards purses.

Proponents tout the ancillary economy that would benefit by boosting the horseracing industry, such as farmland preservation, and horse trainers and groomers, and farmers and manufacturers that produce bale and feed.

“[New Jersey] is known as the state in which the horse is recognized as the state animal,” said Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-40th District. “We need to do everything not only the horse industry but the farriers, the shipper’s the people that provide feed and grain, the farmers. We need to continue to do that.”

Under the amendment approved Monday, the state’s three racetracks would have to submit annual economic activity report to the state Legislature of the governor’s office and the New Jersey Racing Commission, which oversees the state’s horse-racing industry.

Those three racetracks would have to report data such as the number of horses in their races, what people bet on the races and yearly revenue and attendance.

The state Senate approved its upper house version, Senate Bill 2992, at a Dec. 17, 2018 session.