Poll shows legislative slot support

Survey indicates both houses would approve slots at racetracks

A poll of current members of the New Jersey Legislature indicates that legislation to install video lottery terminals

VLTs) at the state’s racetracks would pass both houses if the bill were put up for a floor vote.

Results of a survey conducted by the New Jersey Standardbred Horse Industry showed that 25 members of the 40-member state Senate and 43 members of the 80-member state Assembly said they would vote for VLT legislation, with the VLTs operated by New Jersey-based casinos at the three horse racetracks, according to Leon Zimmerman, spokesperson for the standardbred horse industry.

“New Jersey’s racetracks cannot compete with tracks in our neighboring states without additional financial support,” Zimmerman said. “Horse owners and breeders are opting to go to Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware, because slot machines or VLTs at those state’s racetracks offer greater purse money.”

He continued, “This situation threatens the future of New Jersey’s horse racing and breeding industries and increases the likely loss of thousands of acres of horse farms that are preserving open space.”

While most recent discussions of financial help for horse racing has focused on renewal of the four-year casino supplement that expires this year, Zimmerman explained that the survey was done to determine the extent of legislative support for VLTs.

There was a 65 percent survey response from senators and a 54 percent response from Assembly members. State lawmakers support was bipartisan, according to Zimmerman.

Of 26 responses from senators, 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans were in favor and one Democrat against. One other favorable response was unsigned, he said.

Among 48 responses from Assembly members, there were 21 Democrats and 20 Republicans in favor, with two more favorable responses unsigned. Two Assembly members voted no and three others, all Democrats, abstained, according to Zimmerman.