TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) today criticized the professional report prepared for the Department of Treasury that examines the feasibility of video lottery terminals (VLT) at the state’s horse racing facilities, pointing to failed methodology and inconsistencies between an earlier report prepared by the same company.
“This report doesn’t appear to be worth much more than the paper it was written on. The methodology they’ve employed is useless. Look at the population around East Rutherford and the population around Monmouth – how could you propose putting the same amount of VLTs at both racetracks? Putting 2,100 VLTs at the Meadowlands is a ridiculously low number. That’s like a toy store at the holidays hiring only one employee.
“Clearly this report developed scenarios that enforce a negative outcome, scenarios that no logical businessperson would utilize.”
Codey also criticized the report for contradicting an earlier study by the same company that determined that VLTs would not have a negative impact on the New Jersey lottery.
“In 2005, Christiansen Capital Advisors did a study while I was Governor, which concluded that VLTs at the racetracks would NOT have an adverse effect on the New Jersey lottery. Now the same company writes a new report suggesting it would. Which report is correct? Should we let them do another report and then decide on the best two out of three?”
Sen. Codey also pointed out that both reports did have one common thread, “The one thing both reports did agree on is that gaming facilities and racinos in New York and Pennsylvania will have the biggest impact on Atlantic City. These are the same competitors that are also crippling the horse racing industry in New Jersey. So clearly something needs to be done to keep New Jersey competitive.
“It’s interesting to note that Harrah’s Entertainment, the largest casino owner in New Jersey, also owns Chester Downs in Pennsylvania, which is closer to Atlantic City, than Monmouth, Freehold or the Meadowlands. Essentially, Harrah’s is impacting themselves more than any VLT operation in New Jersey ever would.”
Sen. Codey went on to stress that New Jersey’s horse racing industry, estimated by Rutgers to be a billion dollar industry, is in dire need of a boost if it is to remain viable.
“If we don’t give the racing industry the ability to be as competitive as other tracks, our horses are going to follow the money and money comes with VLTs, simple as that. I’m a business man – if you don’t have what your competition has, eventually you’re going to fold, and eventually our horse farms will be taken over by developers. Simply put, we could be looking at the loss of a billion dollar industry.”
Sen. Codey also noted that when he was Governor, he came close to reaching a deal with the Atlantic City casinos to allow them to operate VLTs at the Meadowlands and receive a share of the profit. However, the deal fell apart after one casino balked at the proposal.
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