WHEREAS, according to the most recent information from the Rutgers Equine Science Center, the horse industry contributes approximately $1 billion annually to New Jersey’s economy; and
WHEREAS, in that same study, the state’s racing venues were cited as contributing $502 million annually to the state’s economy; 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, New Jersey has so far opted not to include such gaming attractions at its racetracks over concern 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 upon a robust equine sector; and
WHEREAS, the value of the New York Thoroughbred incentive program has increased to $17 million, and Pennsylvania expects to distribute in excess of $10 million, while the value of the New Jersey-bred program, by comparison has declined due to increased competition and lack of funding, only expected to distribute $1.2 million in 2012; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Sire Stakes Board is investigating the possibility of a portion of the program being open to horses not necessarily sired by a New Jersey-based stallion but whose dams spend a certain number of days in the state during the year they foal; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s horseracing industry would be significantly stronger if it derived funding from additional gaming options at racetracks, including slot machines and/or video lottery terminals (VLTs); and
WHEREAS, the ongoing discussion of possible sports betting in New Jersey should include revenue that benefits the horseracing industry; and
WHEREAS, a more rapid expansion of off-track wagering in New Jersey can be facilitated through the “use it or lose it” provisions adopted by the Legislature and Governor as regards establishment of off-track wagering sites.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 98th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 6-7, 2013, urge the New Jersey Legislature to continue support 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 strongly urge the Legislature and Governor to address the additional revenue that could be gained by adding VLTs and/or slot machines, or other gaming options to New Jersey racetracks; including the horseracing industry in the mix of activities that would benefit from the establishment of sports betting in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly urge the appropriate agencies and authorities to strictly enforce the previously adopted “use it or lose it” provisions as regards to creating additional off-track wagering sites.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support dedicating a portion of the Sire Stakes Program to being open to horses not necessarily sired by a New Jersey-based stallion but whose dams spend a certain number of days gestating in the state during the year they foal.
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.