New Jersey’s three thoroughbred racetracks will not implement slot machines in the next three years, Gov. Jon Corzine announced last week.
Slots at racetracks had been recommended as a way to boost the state’s waning horse-racing industry. Instead, the local casino industry will give $90 million to augment racing purses and help finance equine breeding programs.
Atlantic City casinos have opposed slot machines at racetracks because they fear it could lower casino attendance. Yet the horse racing industry has said video lottery terminals could reverse the trend since 1999 of declining revenues at Meadowlands Racetrack, Monmouth Racetrack, and Freehold Raceway. One racing facility, Garden State Park, closed in 2002.
A recent study compiled by Christiansen Capital Advisors LLC indicated that “if horse racing is to continue in New Jersey in its present form, additional funds will have to be found.”
In a press release, Corzine said the agreement was needed to maintain casino attendance and sustain horse racing in the Garden State.
“Both the equine industry and the casino industry play important roles in New Jersey, from preserving open space to attracting visitors, and it was essential to strike a balance that will allow both industries to thrive,” the governor said in a press release. “The agreement involves no taxpayer dollars and will not reduce casino funds that flow to the state.”
Officials anticipate New Jersey will receive $426 million of casino revenue in fiscal 2009, which begins July 1. That amount is $14 million more than gambling revenues for the current year, according to the state’s fiscal 2009 budget in brief.
The state Treasury Department released the CCA study in November. According to the report, gross gaming revenues for casinos could drop by as much as 1.8% if all three horse racing facilities added slot machines to their parks.