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New Jersey eyes restoring subsidy for horse racing industry

January 31, 2019

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey lawmakers passed a measure Thursday that would restore government subsidies for the state’s horse racing industry.

The state Assembly and Senate gave final approval to a bill providing $20 million a year for five years to the racing industry as it struggles to compete with out-of-state tracks that have casino gambling.

The bill now goes to the desk of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

It includes an escape clause that lets the Legislature get out of paying the subsidy if it determines the payments are not “substantially” improving the industry.

The money would help subsidize race purses, or prize money. The recipients of the aid would have to file a report with the state outlining how they spent the money.

Former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, ended state support for the industry seven years ago, diverting the money to help struggling Atlantic City.

Dennis Drazin, president and CEO of Darby Development, LLC, which operates Monmouth Park Racetrack, called the votes “an across- the-board win for New Jersey.”

“We’re thankful to all the legislators who have recognized the importance of this legislation and the impact it will have on our industry,” he said. “Today’s actions, and hopefully the governor’s signature shortly, put us on a more even playing field with our neighbors, who for years have enjoyed casino-fueled purse subsidies.”

The $20 million a year would go to the New Jersey Racing Commission, which would split it equally among the thoroughbred and standardbred industries.

The thoroughbred funds would all go to Monmouth Park overnight purses.

Of the funds allocated to the standardbred industry, 60 percent would go to overnight purses at the Meadowlands Racetrack; overnight purses; 16 percent to those at Freehold Raceway; 12 percent to New Jersey Sire Stakes purses; 6 percent to purse bonuses for New Jersey sired horses; and 6 percent for breeders awards purses.

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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