A package of bills stemming from the Legislative Democrats’ Joint Gaming Summit held earlier this year which would help stabilize and revitalize the State’s ailing horse racing and casino gaming industries was approved by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.

The first bill in the package, S-829, sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey, would authorize the New Jersey Racing Commission to issue a license to the Sports and Exposition Authority to establish an exchange wagering system in New Jersey.  Under the proposed system, which would allow New Jersey residents who are at least 18 years of age to open an account, bettors would be able to set up exchange wagering accounts, and two or more bettors would be able to place directly opposing wagers on the outcome of a horse race or races.

The second bill in the package, S-1980, sponsored by Senator Paul A. Sarlo, would make various changes to the State’s “Off-Track and Account Wagering Act,” to ensure that off-track wagering (OTW) facilities are being built in New Jersey.  Under current law, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and private racetracks are permitted to develop 15 (OTW) parlors throughout the State.  Under Senator Sarlo’s bill, the 15 current permit holders would have to show progress by January 1 2012, or those permits would revert to the horsemen organizations, and if the horsemen organizations cannot show progress, the permits would go to the open market, to allow any private investor to bid on the development rights for those facilities.

The third bill, S-2229, sponsored by Senator Codey, would allow racetracks to combine all wagers placed on the results of one or more runnings or harness horse races into a single pari-mutuel pool.  By creating larger pari-mutuel pools, racetracks can handle a greater variety of wagers and reduce the adverse effect of large pay-outs to the racetrack’s bottom line.

The final bill in the package, would lower the minimum requirement for the number of standardbred horse racing dates scheduled at the Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway to 100 dates per season at each track.  The move, following the successful adoption of a reduced schedule at Monmouth Park earlier this year, would ensure larger purses and more prestigious races at the racetrack each year.

All four bills were unanimously approved by the Committee.

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