Tag Archive: Horse Racing

NJ Democrats: What I want to know

What I want to know is why the New Jersey Democrats could spare 10 lawmakers for a Summit in Atlantic City, to spend one entire day chattering about gambling, horses and tourists. And let Loretta Weinberg and Linda Stender walk into a room by themselves to be ambushed by GOP staffers one-upping them with news that women’s health funding just lost all key GOP support.

What about this confuses you Democrats, in terms of priority?

Does nobody in the Democratic Party get the disastrous optics of this? All that Dem firepower all day long to rescue gambling industries that on their best day are fun places to spend leisure money and on their worst are a regressive tax on poor saps we tempt into risking their mortgage money while distracting them with half-dressed women, colored lights and booze? While what’s at stake for the women of New Jersey is maintaining access to health care for at least 40,000 women? That is necessity, not leisure. Are you kidding me?

  • Tell me all you want that the AC Summit was about jobs. Union jobs. Good.

  • Shut the GOP out of your summit because Christie’s Hanson Commission was hand-picked and secretive. Whatev.

  • Suit up to fight off a Christie takeover AC plan that’s GOP incursion on your Democratic-controlled city. If you must.

    But you did not look good doing this. You let the conversation in the papers be about your decision to shut out the GOP. No less outrageous than the governor’s choices, but way more public, and thus more publicly petty. Particularly when you start trotting out old turf wars North v. South, which was some time after the bugler dressed in a red costume get-up opened the summit like he was blowing the start of some race. Do you feel me here?

    Legislating with the Governor from Hell must be demoralizing and frustrating. But it’s time to get your act together. And leaving two women legislators hanging in the wind to advocate for the most at-risk members of half your citizenry is not it.

    I don’t know if the Dems have the legislative strength to overcome this veto, now that Christie pulled the leash on GOP senators Diane Allen, Kip Bateman, Andrew Ciesla, Christopher Connors, Sean Kean & Robert Singer, and stopped them thinking for themselves. Is this override just a sinking ship you don’t wanna be on? If so, think again. You want to be Democrats, you’re going to have to show up for women, and for people at risk. You’re not going to do that, you’ll have to call yourself something else.

    Because the GOP’s dominated by the Christies and the Jay Webbers, for whom Roe v. Wade isn’t settled law, it’s law they don’t feel like recognizing. Access to birth control and the prevention of unplanned pregnancy isn’t access to health care for them, it’s an excuse to inflict their opinions about morality on the rest of us on women, never risking their own lives. Forget pap smears, breast cancer screenings – that’s not even on their radar.

    We see you Dems who came out for women. Thank you. But, Democrats, for most of you – Your house is burning, and you left your women inside while you went to the track. Get straight.  

  • Your State-Sponsored Gambling Thread

    The big New Jersey news today is the release of the committee report on Atlantic City and the Meadowlands. Governor Christie is backing the report’s recommendations:

    “This report is a blueprint that will guide our efforts in managing and protecting our gaming, sports and entertainment resources more responsibly and reforming issues critical to New Jersey’s economic future,” said Governor Christie. “I look forward to reviewing all of the Commission’s recommendations so that we can put these industries on a solid foundation and path to long-term economic growth and prosperity.”

    He’ll be holding a second press conference at 2pm in Atlantic City.

    (Update: NJN will stream it here)

    Key elements are a state takeover of the casino district in Atlantic City to make it “clean and safe,” elimination of the thoroughbred meet at the Meadowlands, and qualified support for more state aid to Xanadu. Also, no video lottery terminals (VLTs) outside Atlantic City for now. Horse racing, in short, is dying. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority would be closed.

    The report calls for the privatization of IZOD and PNC Arts Center while at the same time wants to “ensure that competition among them is mutually beneficial and not counterproductive to their financial success.”  I laughed at that contradiction (and this one too), but the whole situation is an unholy mess of regulation, socialism, capitalism, greed, corruption, immorality, and failure. In any case, I have no opinion of what should be done now.  

    Here are the Press of Atlantic City coverage and NJ.com coverage.

    Reactions are all over the map — Blue Jersey has already heard from Democrats who support the plan and those who reject it.  

    Assemblyman Paul Moriarty praises it:

    “This report will require a thorough and careful analysis, but I am pleased to hear the emphasis it places on keeping Atlantic City as New Jersey’s entertainment and gaming focal point…

    Senator Steve Sweeney mocks it:

    “Anyone who walks the Atlantic City Boardwalk for five minutes would come to the same conclusions that it took this commission six months of closed-door meetings to reach,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “Improving New Jersey’s gaming and entertainment industry means more than just cleaning the streets and slapping on some paint. It means bringing new products into the market that will attract visitors and beat back the steady stream of new competitors. It means creating jobs and welcoming businesses. This report only goes half way.”

    Sweeney, Barbara Buono, and Paul Sarlo point instead to their “gaming summit” next month.  

    Assemblywoman Connie Wagner opposes the report:

    “Any  recommendation to sell or close the Meadowlands race track is beyond disappointing. I urge Gov. Christie to reject it and instead embrace efforts to bring video lottery terminals to the track to modernize it and allow it to readily compete with other states.

    Senator Jim Whelan is thoughtful:

    “Obviously, we need serious, system-wide changes to the way New Jersey manages and regulates gaming and entertainment, in Atlantic City and across the State.  You don’t have to look any further than the casinos’ bottom line to see that the current system is failing the businesses, and it’s failing the people of the State.

    “We are happy that the Governor has put a new focus on Atlantic City, but even after seeing the report, there are more questions than answers.  Hopefully, moving forward through the Gaming Summit that Senate President Sweeny has proposed, we can get those answers.

    “Gaming deregulation, sports betting, Internet betting, lowering the 500-room requirement for casinos, and the completion of the Revel casino are all issues where details are lacking; these matters must be a part of the solution to revitalize Atlantic City.”

    Tell us what you think should be done.

    Update: More varied reaction. Lesniak reaches back to 1984 to ask  “Where’s the beef?” and continues to flog the dead horse of sports betting, while Van Drew calls the report “encouraging” and “a great starting point.”

    They can’t even agree on what to talk about at meetings

    Just another reason why the industry is struggling:

    New Jersey’s horse racing and casino gambling industries still have a long way to go in developing a collaborative strategy to meet the competitive challenges emerging in neighboring states.

    Representatives of the longtime rival industries couldn’t even agree on what to discuss Wednesday at a meeting of a new commission charged with saving the state’s four horse racing tracks.

    Track officials wanted to talk about “racinos,” the electronic betting parlors that have been introduced at 36 racetracks in 15 states since 1995. However, Joseph Fusco, a spokesman for the Casino Association of New Jersey, spoke for 20 minutes at the meeting without even mentioning the word.

    Traditionally, we haven’t had racinos because they were trying to protect Atlantic City and the casinos. But with additional states moving in the gaming direction, the horse racing tracks industry feel they’re losing time and money not having them:

    “It’s not horse racing versus casinos,” state Sen. Jennifer Beck of Red Bank reminded members at Wednesday’s meeting of the Governor’s Commission on the Horse Racing Industry. “It’s New Jersey versus Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New York.”

    The racing industry doesn’t seem to see it that way and says the casinos should fix their own problems and stay out of their business.  I understand they have competing interests in some areas, but taking no action while states continue to move forward around them helps no one. And why still no word on the movement to overturn the sports gambling ban if they’re looking for additional revenue? Instead, they continue to fight amongst themselves.

    Horseing around over purse money

    How do you divide up a $90 million purse subsidy from the Atlantic City Casinos to the NJ Horseracing Industry.   That’s the question they are currently trying to answer:

    Still unresolved is whether Atlantic City Race Course will get a cut of the money to support an expanded Thoroughbred meet in 2009. Now, Freehold Raceway, a harness track, is said to be in jeopardy because its parent company won’t accept $1.6 million negotiated earlier.

    The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey said a Nov. 7 conference call failed to produce a resolution. The SBOANJ had threatened to yank its authorization for simulcasts at Freehold Nov. 5, but allowed more time for negotiations.

    But this isn’t just a NJ issue and it isn’t just about horse racing monies either:

    Freehold is owned by Pennwood Racing, whose partners are Penn National Gaming Inc. and Greenwood Racing, two Pennsylvania-based companies. PNGI isn’t against the Freehold subsidy but won’t sign off on the agreement because it keeps racetrack owners from pursuing gaming. PNGI has expressed interest in developing a casino in Atlantic City.

    The SBOANJ, in a release, said Joe Corbo of the New Jersey Casino Association indicated the casinos probably wouldn’t agree to give Freehold its cut of the subsidy unless PNGI signed the agreement. SBOANJ legal counsel Joel Sterns told Freehold officials the track could end up closing should purses not be supplemented.

    This seems like it is also a NJ turf war about where the money goes:

    The purse subsidy–$30 million a year for three years-goes to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. A previous four-year supplement went to purses at the two NJSEA tracks and Freehold; Atlantic City wasn?t included. Other tracks can be in the mix if the affected parties agree.

    There is friction between Atlantic City and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which wants Thoroughbred racing’s share of the subsidy to support racing at Monmouth and Meadowlands. The New Jersey Racing Commission will award racing dates for 2009 at its Nov. 19 meeting; it remains to be seen how it will rule on a racing schedule for Atlantic City, which said it could offer six days without a purse supplement.

    During its meet this spring, Atlantic City circulated petitions calling for the track to get part of the subsidy. The petitions were sent to local legislators, who reportedly are assisting the track in the subsidy fight so it can maintain live racing and support the southern New Jersey economy. Atlantic City is open year-round for simulcasts and operates an off-track betting parlor in nearby Vineland.

    There are so many factors at play in this one.   You would think they will come to some agreement because they wouldn’t want to cut off their nose to spite their face and lose a race track in the process. This argument that continues to flair up over gambling, be it casino gaming, sports betting or horse racing will continue because they try to address the problem one piece at a time rather than approaching the gaming industry as a whole.  Under the current approach, everyone has their own competing interests within their piece of the industry they are trying to protect.