TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require off-track betting facilities to pay four percent of their net wagering revenues to host municipalities was unanimously approved by the Senate Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.
“Off-track wagering is a novel approach to reenergize the horse racing industry and spur economic investment in a community,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “However, as we’ve seen in my hometown of Woodbridge, taxpayers are very concerned that they might have to foot the bill for increased traffic, noise pollution and crime. By requiring off-track betting parlors to invest back into their host communities, we can provide an incentive for towns to host these facilities and ensure that any additional local costs are borne on the backs of the off-track facility operators.”
The bill, S-2632, would require the operator of an off-track wagering facility to make an annual payment of four percent of the facility’s net wagering revenue to a host municipality when the facility applies to renew its license. The assessment would help defray any costs to the municipality generated from hosting the facility, including traffic diversion, increased law enforcement presence, and noise barriers to protect neighboring homeowners.
Currently, only one off-track wagering site, opened in Vineland in March of this year, is operational in the State, with an additional facility proposed for Woodbridge. However, the bill was amended in Committee to exempt any off-track wagering facility owned by a business entity which pays into the corporate business tax. Under the amended bill, the Vineland facility would be exempt, but the proposed Woodbridge site, which would be operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, would still fall under the assessment requirement under this bill.
“Interest in horse-racing in New Jersey is drying up, and if we can bring off-track simulcasting facilities to the fans, we may have an opportunity to save the industry,” said Senator Vitale. “But we cannot increase the burden on New Jersey’s already-beleaguered taxpayers. This bill strikes a balance between promoting horse racing and requiring off-track facility operators to show responsibility for any added local costs.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.