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New Jersey governor gets caught between tracks, casinos

5 February 2008

NEW JERSEY -- As reported by the Bloomberg: "...Racetrack owners say they can't survive unless they are allowed to install video-lottery terminals or get a subsidy to make up for not having them.

"Governor Jon Corzine doesn't want to legalize the video games outside Atlantic City because they might hurt casinos' business. The casinos, already facing revenue losses as neighboring states open gambling parlors, say they can't afford to renew the $20 million subsidy they paid for four years.

"More horse owners may move their operations elsewhere unless New Jersey's four tracks find a way to fatten their purses, which have shrunk as betting declined. The breeders and tracks contribute $1.1 billion a year to the state economy, according to a study by the Rutgers Equine Science Center.

"...Revenue from the video lottery terminals allows tracks to offer bigger race purses. VLTs are similar to slot machines but are hooked up to a central computer that randomly generates winning numbers. Slot machines, which account for most of Atlantic City casinos' revenues, each pick winners separately.

"...Corzine said last week that his administration is negotiating with both sides. He says he wants to help horse racing without hurting Atlantic City, which has had a state monopoly on casino gaming since it was legalized in 1976.

"Wagering on New Jersey horse races declined 25 percent to $924 million in 2006 from 1999, according to a state- commissioned study released last year by Christiansen Capital Advisors, a New York gaming-research firm..."

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