A bill that would award $100 million in government funds toward purse money on New Jersey horse races was on Monday unanimously approved by the State Budget and Appropriations Committee, bringing the state’s tracks a step closer to some reprieve in the wake of a 2011 decision by then Gov. Chris Christie to end the $17 million per year subsidy provided by the state’s casinos.
Of course, since then New Jersey has legalized sports betting in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that left the process in states’ hands, though any revenue there promises to help the tracks themselves, not horsemen, as a purse boost would. Monmouth Park, home of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, became one of the first tracks to open a sports book hoping to reap the benefits.
According to a WHYY.org report, Monmouth would receive all of the Thoroughbred purse funding should the current bill pass, providing $50 million over five years. The other half of the money would go to standardbred operations, primarily the Meadowlands Racetrack.
“This will be a huge help for the horse racing industry that is an important part of New Jersey’s heritage and culture and a key source of jobs and economic activity,” state Sen. Vin Gopal, who co-sponsored the bill, said, according to WHYY.org.
An amendment is also seeking to force racetracks that offer sports betting to create an agreement with horsemen for potential revenue shares.
Numbers provided indicate the racing industry provides 13,000 jobs in New Jersey.