Racing and Breeding Industry - Reinvigorating Equine
WHEREAS, the horse industry contributes $1.1 billion annually to New Jersey’s economy, and nearly 30 percent of the 42,500 horses in the state are involved in racing- and breeding-related activities; and
WHEREAS, the state’s racing venues contribute $502 million annually to the state’s economy, according to a report released by the Rutgers Equine Science Center; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s horseracing industry faces increased competition from racetracks in surrounding and nearby states that have added gaming options such as slot machines and table games, with a portion of those revenues used to supplement purses at tracks in those jurisdictions; and
WHEREAS, the value of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and breeding development programs has increased to $15 million, and similar programs in New York are now valued in excess of $18 million, while the value of New Jersey’s Sire Stakes program, by comparison declined and distributed just $3.84 million in 2011; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey has so far opted not to include such gaming attractions at its racetracks for fear of detracting from the casino gaming industry in Atlantic City, which itself has seen decreasing revenues due to the nationwide economic recession and the competition from surrounding states’ “racinos”; and
WHEREAS, there have been no firm commitments on future funding sources to replace the previous contributions made to New Jersey racing by the casino industry to ensure a strong and stable horseracing and breeding industry; and
WHEREAS, patrons of New Jersey’s racetracks are rapidly exiting the state in order to take advantage of the casino opportunities that are available in neighboring states in addition to the traditional raceway wagers; and
WHEREAS, the loss of patrons has a direct effect on the racing industry, resulting in a reduction in the amount of wagers placed at New Jersey racetracks, thereby causing uncompetitive purse awards; and
WHEREAS, this has resulted in New Jersey’s racetracks reducing the number of days they operate, thus reducing revenue to equine breeding programs in the state and resulting in uncompetitive purse awards compared to those in neighboring states; and
WHEREAS, the loss of breeding horses, and consequently breeding farms, in New Jersey will result in a net loss of land devoted to agricultural activity, depriving citizens of productive and scenic open space, and will harm the related businesses and industries that depend on a robust equine sector; and
WHEREAS, several pieces of legislation have been introduced, approved and/or enacted within the past year to infuse the racing and equine breeding industry with new funding through, among other items: permitting sports wagering at racetracks (which passed as a ballot referendum on November 8, 2011); allowing the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to lease its tracks to private concerns; authorizing exchange wagering on in-state and out-of-state horse races; allowing racetrack permit holders to provide for a single pari-mutuel pool for each running or harness horse race; infusing the equine breeding industry with $10 million in new funding; and dedicating revenues derived from certain sales and uses subject to sales and use tax to provide enhanced incentives for breeding and development of certain classes of racehorses in this state; and
WHEREAS, some entities that have obtained licenses to operate off-track wagering facilities have made no substantial progress toward establishing and opening these facilities.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 97th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on January 18-19, 2012, urge the New Jersey Legislature to continue funding to the New Jersey racing industry until the industry is able to develop sufficient strategies, including the continued build-out of off-track betting facilities and new forms of wagering, to support the current purse structure and breeding incentives.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the appropriate officials and agencies to establish and enforce a “use it or lose it” provision for off-track wagering facility licenses that sets a firm timeline in which progress in establishing and opening those facilities must occur in order for the holder of the license to avoid forfeiting it.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature to approve, and the Governor to sign, all previously introduced legislation that has not already been approved and/or signed, that will support the further development of the horseracing industry in New Jersey in a manner that will put it on competitive ground with the horseracing industries in surrounding states.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we urge the Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation that would establish casino gaming at racetracks in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Legislature and the Governor to work with the State Board of Agriculture to explore options for expanded locations for horse wagering, such as wagering via current existing state lottery terminals.