[toc]Lost in the utter disaster that was the failed November 2016 referendum to allow casinos in North Jersey was a bill read just a few weeks earlier to New Jersey’s General Assembly that would allow people to gamble online at horse racetracks.
Turns out lawmakers were listening and, earlier this month, the New Jersey Assembly voted 60-12 to approve what amounts to internet cafes for NJ online gambling at locations such as Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.
Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Declan O’Scanlon, the bill’s sponsors, published a press release Dec. 7 describing the bill and its intention. Here’s an excerpt from that letter:
“Combining these two popular pastimes in the same venue will boost two vital segments of our economy. The unique mix will attract new patrons to the racetracks and complement New Jersey’s tourism industry. Atlantic City casinos, capitalizing on increased exposure, will see internet revenues continue to soar, adding to state tax revenue.”
A mirrored bill is awaiting a vote in the NJ Senate.
Why the New Jersey legislation matters
The bill introduces gambling to racetracks, something that was all but lost when the referendum to expand casinos beyond Atlantic City was practically laughed at by voters. They voted “no” at a 3-to-1 clip.
Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural was an outspoken proponent of the gambling expansion — he had plans to build a casino — and was no doubt disappointed by the referendum’s result.
But this new bill soothes the aches North Jersey has felt since November 2016. Racetracks would be paid to host the online gaming machines. Who would pay them? New Jersey casinos, a somewhat ironic twist considering Gural was not too keen on Atlantic City’s efforts to safeguard its casinos.
Basically, the iGaming machines placed at racetracks would link gamblers to NJ casino websites. The track would serve as a licensed location.
How NJ racetracks could get paid
The bill has yet to be approved by the Senate, so there’s a good chance that what the Assembly approved will undergo some changes.
But, if the bill were to be passed as-is, racetracks would receive compensation as a “racetrack licensee.” Here’s the exact text from the bill: “A casino, or its internet gaming affiliate, shall compensate a racetrack licensee for its services as provided in the terms of the agreement.”
The bill does not discuss what that compensation would look like. We don’t know if the compensation would be a one-time payment, a monthly fixed payment, or a payment based on revenue from the tracks’ machines.