From the wires:
- Some New Jersey lawmakers are seeking to begin a process that could lead to casino gambling at The Meadowlands, the Associated Press reports (here). On Thursday, a state Assembly committee advanced a bill that would create a panel to study the feasibility of bringing gambling to the East Rutherford facility. The bill would create a 13-member panel, which would be tasked both with examining expanding gaming and analyzing whether state reforms intended to bolster the flagging gambling business in Atlantic City are succeeding. Not surprisingly, the casino industry opposes the legislation, and Tony Rodio, head of the Casino Association of New Jersey, wrote the committee that expanding gambling beyond its Atlantic City base would have a “potentially catastrophic” impact on the existing casinos. Advocates of the legislation point out that Atlantic City’s catastrophe is already in progress — gambling revenue has declined from more than $5 billion annually to less than $3 billion — and that more than 15 million people live within 50 miles of The Meadowlands. “Right now we are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year being siphoned off to other places,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a Democrat from nearby Essex County.
- Elsewhere in the New Jersey legislature, a Senate committee reported out a bill that would allow “instant racing” machines at racetracks and off-track wagering facilities (here). Instant racing machines allow patrons to place parimutuel wagers on previously recorded races, sometimes from long ago, and the track, date, and horse names are not identified. That means that the machines are not dissimilar to slot machines — which they physically resemble — in that patrons are gambling on what, to them, is essentially a random outcome. Because the races are pre-recorded, though, players can wager much more frequently than they do on normal races. Perhaps instant racing’s greatest success story is Oaklawn Park, which has flourished since adding them, allowing the track to bolster purses. One important question will be the constitutionality of the provision — the state Constitution does not currently contemplate wagering on pre-recorded horse races — and another will be what sort of opposition Atlantic City musters.