Rutgers report Racetrack slots could help horse industry

//August 3, 2009

Rutgers report Racetrack slots could help horse industry

//August 3, 2009

Racino model would be a boon to $4B equine industry, authors argue.The addition of video lottery terminals would aid the racetrack industry, according to a report by Rutgers University’s Equine Science Center that described the value of the horse industry to the state.

The report estimates the value of the state’s equine industry at $4 billion, and said it generates $1.1 billion annually and is responsible for 13,000 jobs. The report was posted on the Hall Public Policy Center of New Jersey’s Web site July 28.

Despite the size of the industry, its current business model isn’t working, according to the report. Either increased state subsidies or more revenue from slot machines and video terminal lotteries are needed to ensure the industry’s sustainability, fund the costs of improving the industry’s infrastructure, and promote and market the industry to attract younger fans, according to the report’s authors, Karyn Malinowski and Ryan Avanatti.

“Racinos would add jobs to the state during construction and renovations of the racetracks, as well as during operation,” according to the report.

They cited Delaware, Pennsylvania and the Canadian province of Ontario as places where improvements to the industry occurred due to video lottery terminals.

The state has 12,500 horses in racing-related activities, including breeding, and there are 30,000 other equine animals in the state, according to the report. The industry operates 176,000 acres of farmland.

Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank) and Assembly members Declan J. O’Scanlan Jr. (R-Red Bank) and Caroline Casagrande (R-Freehold) said New Jersey must remain competitive with other states. Beck said the racing and casino industries should work together.

A commission created by Gov. Jon S. Corzine is studying the industry to recommend funding changes.

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