New Bill Would OK Wagering On Historical Horse Racing In New Jersey

As gambling continues to expand and become part of the infrastructure of New Jersey, a new proposed bill could push the boundaries even further.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer and Assemblywoman  Valerie Vainieri Huttle, the bill would amend the state constitution to allow wagering on previously recorded horse races.

Introduced to the New Jersey Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee on Oct. 18, the proposed bill would authorize such action at racetracks and off-track wagering facilities.

A closer look at the proposed New Jersey bill

The introduced bill would amend Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 2 of the state constitution.

First and foremost, and atop the proposed bill: “No gambling of any kind shall be authorized by the Legislature unless the specific kind, restrictions and control thereof have been heretofore” presented and approved by the public.

Upon approval, the state will have the authorization to green-light establishments to conduct historical horse racing operations at licensed racetracks and at off-track wagering facilities. Those wagers, per the bill, can be placed in-person or remotely.

According to the NJ Racing Commission, New Jersey features 10 properties eligible to offer historical horse race wagering:

  • Borgata
  • Freehold Raceway
  • Meadowlands Racetrack
  • Monmouth Park
  • Favorites (at Egg Harbor, Hillsborough, Gloucester, Toms River, and Woodbridge)
  • Winners Bayonne

The state would tax revenue “solely for the purpose” of reducing property taxes, rental, telephone, gas, electric, and municipal utility charges of eligible senior citizens and disabled veterans.

In addition, taxed revenue would be used to expand health services, benefits or transportation services for the same demographic.

How historical horse racing works

The first practice of historical horse racing cropped up in Arkansas in 1999. And that concept has since become the template.

In essence, historical racing machines use a database of 25,000 race results. Every few minutes, the machine generates a race on which bettors may wager.

Some information on the race is divulged, such as odds and previous results by horses. Other than that, fiction takes over. Not provided are horse names, what jockeys are riding, or what tracks on which the races take place.

After betting, the races take off, using either video clips or digital representation to display the action.

As a result of the fast turnover of races, tracks and off-track facilities can offer a multitude of betting options rather than a select few REAL horse races that take place sparingly — and with lengthy between-race intervals, to boot.

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Adding to expanded gambling

Already New Jersey has begun to reap the rewards of a variety of legalized gambling options.

In September, for example, Atlantic City casinos combined for the second-biggest month of NJ online gambling revenue in the five-year history of the industry.

Not to be outdone, NJ sports betting generated $24 million last month from $184 million in handle. Those numbers reflected vast increases from August’s totals. August stood at $95 million in handle and about $9 million in revenue.

With the popularity of live horse racing on the decline, offering historical horse race wagering could become another source of revenue.

About the Author

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.