I’m pleased to announce that after extensive discussions we have crafted an agreement that will extend a three-year lifeline to the horse racing industry," Corzine said. The agreement, which breaks down to us$ 30 million a year, is considerably more than the us$ 21.5 million per year the casinos paid in subsidies during a four-year agreement that ended late last year.
The Casino Association of New Jersey, which represents the owners of the 11 casinos, said the deal is "in principle only." Joseph A. Corbo Jr., president of the Association, said, “We will continue to work diligently towards a definitive written agreement."
In return for paying the subsidies, the casinos get a promise from the governor that he will continue to prohibit video lottery terminals (VLTs) -which are similar to slot machines -in the state’s three tracks. The casinos also would get some tax benefits, which were not fully detailed by the governor.
Corzine has said he doesn’t want gambling machines at the tracks -Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park, which are run by the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, and Freehold Raceway, owned by Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing. Corzine said he believes the competition would hurt Atlantic City’s casinos, particularly since they are being boxed-in by an increasing number of slot machines in Eastern Pennsylvania and the New York City metropolitan area.
Meanwhile, New Jersey’s track operators have said they need either the a subsidy or the ability to install slot machines or VLTs to compete with tracks in Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania that subsidize their business with gaming machines.
The agreement to extend the subsidies came after months of discussions involving members of the governor’s office, Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts and Senate President Richard Codey. Senator Jim Whelan and Assemblyman John Burzichelli were also involved, the governor’s office said.
"Both the equine industry and the casino industry play important roles in New Jersey, from preserving open space to attracting visitors, and it was essential to strike a balance that will allow both industries to thrive," Corzine said.