WHEREAS, there have been discussions, though no firm commitments on other funding sources to address purse viability and to ensure a strong and stable racing industry; and
WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced to infuse the equine breeding industry with $10 million in new funding; and
WHEREAS, our neighbors, including New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Ontario, Canada currently provide for the use of slot machines or video lottery terminals (VLTs) in connection with the racing industry, or have passed legislation permitting the use of either slot machines or VLTs; and
WHEREAS, it is estimated by Pennsylvania racing officials that the introduction of slot machines at racetracks in that state will increase the value of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program from $4.7 million to $14.7 million and will boost overnight purses from $24.7 million to $117 million, with similar increases expected in New York; and
WHEREAS, patrons of New Jersey’s four racetracks are rapidly exiting the state in order to take advantage of the slot machines and VLTs 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, higher purse awards made possible by slot machines and VLTs in neighboring states encourage racing participants to move to those states, putting New Jersey’s racing and breeding operations at a competitive disadvantage; 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, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has drafted a report entitled “Focus on the New Jersey Horseracing Industry,” detailing the adverse effects that have already begun to occur to New Jersey’s horseracing industry from the inclusion of additional gambling options at racetracks in surrounding states; and
WHEREAS, the report details numerous possible actions that can be taken to reinvigorate New Jersey’s horseracing industry and keep it competitive with those in surrounding states; and
WHEREAS, the Rutgers Equine Science Center in April 2007 released a report showing that the horse industry contributes $1.1 billion annually to New Jersey’s economy and that, of the 42,500 horses in the state, 12,500, or nearly 30 percent, are involved in racing- and breeding-related activities, and that the state’s four racing venues contribute $502 million annually to the state’s economy.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 93rd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 6, 2008, urge the New Jersey Legislature to continue the existing purse supplement until a longer-term solution, such as slot machines or VLTs, can be found to support the purse structure and breeding incentives.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature to approve, and the Governor to sign, the legislation adding $10 million to the horse breeding programs in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the use of “Jersey Bred” branding to assist in the market positioning of New Jersey horseracing as a valuable asset to the state.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor to adopt the recommendations included in “Focus on the New Jersey Horseracing Industry” and to empower the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to work with both the thoroughbred and standardbred racing sectors toward implementing these strategies.