N.J. may use taxpayer dollars to stabilize horse racing tracks

 Horses leaving the starting gate at Monmouth Park (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Horses leaving the starting gate at Monmouth Park (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Two New Jersey lawmakers have introduced a measure to provide $20 million from the state’s general fund to increase the purse money at horse racing tracks in the state.

The horse tracks in the Garden State have suffered since casino subsidies for the race tracks ended in 2010, said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester.

And recently legalized sports betting might not be enough to make New Jersey tracks competitive with those in Pennsylvania and New York that have casinos, he said.

“We’ll see how the sports betting stuff really works out, what kind of number it brings us. Hopefully, it brings us a good number,” he said. “Maybe by that time, we have a full discussion on this issue, and maybe we don’t have to do this level of subsidy.”

State subsidies to increase purses at the track will help support the industry, said state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth.

“So much of our economy is at stake here. We have spent public dollars on economic improvement, whether it’s tax credits, whether it’s tax abatement,” he said. “I see this as another form.”

Gopal, who said he’s talked to the governor, Senate president, and Assembly speaker, said they’re receptive to the idea.

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