Measure Necessary to Allow State Facilities to Stay Competitive and Offer Simulcasting of Popular Out-of-State Horse Races
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which would amend the State’s Casino Simulcast Act to give casinos the flexibility and profitability to continue partnering with out-of-State racetracks to simulcast high profile races was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 38-0.
“Given the casino industry’s importance to the South Jersey economy, we need to give our State’s casinos every tool we can to help them be profitable,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic, and Chairman of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee. “Unfortunately, the way our current Casino Simulcast law is structured, casinos cannot pay enough to out-of-state tracks to continue to broadcast their races, and horse racing enthusiasts will instead have to spend their money out of state on these exciting races. Rather than forfeit profits to racinos out of state, we should try to keep those dollars here in New Jersey.”
The bill, S-1025, would change existing law to allow casinos and out-of-State racetracks to negotiate the amount that a casino would pay for the transmission of simulcast horse races from the sending track. Under current law, casinos are prohibited from paying more than 3.5 percent of the parimutuel pool on each race, or, in the case of not more than 28 races per calendar year, and for races run annually at the Breeder’s Cup World Cup Championships, six percent of the parimutuel pool on each race. According to the Casino Association of New Jersey, certain simulcast signal providers have threatened to withhold their signal if New Jersey does not increase the simulcast fees paid out by casino simulcasting facilities – a move which would prohibit casinos from taking bets on premium races like the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness.
Under Senator Whelan’s bill, casinos would be allowed to pay up to six percent of the parimutuel pool on each race, and would be allowed to go up to nine percent for the more popular races.
“With more mixed-use horse racing/casino gambling facilities popping up just outside our borders, simulcast providers are simply earning more than New Jersey facilities are currently allowed to pay out on out-of-state races,” said Senator Weinberg. “We don’t want to put our casinos in a position of losing out to these other facilities which are statutorily allowed to pay more for simulcasting.”
The bill would also all the casino licensees to retain 55 percent of the remaining takeout rate amounts from horse betting, instead of the current 50 percent allowed under current law. Senator Whelan said that increasing the casino takeout rate recognizes that off-track simulcasting at casinos has been hurt by the availability of table games at horse tracks outside of New Jersey, and said that the higher rate would encourage casinos to negotiate with out-of-state racetracks to continue to provide simulcasting.
“At the end of the day, the expansion of gaming at Dover Downs in Delaware and at betting parlors in Pennsylvania has had a serious impact on casino gaming in Atlantic City,” said Senator Whelan. “We want to make sure we give our casinos the tools they need to succeed and to compete with out-of-state facilities, and we want to make sure they come to the table as willing partners with out-of-state tracks. This bill will ensure that the lucrative partnership between Atlantic City casinos and out-of-state simulcasting horse tracks continues well into the future.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.