New Jersey racetracks seek slot machines, bill filed

Posted on: January 12, 2024, 10:46 am.

Last updated on: January 12, 2024, 11:11 am.

New Jersey racetracks that currently offer sports betting want the privilege of accommodating slot machines. A state senator has heeded the request, introducing legislation that would ask state voters to expand gambling at horse racing venues.

New Jersey Racetrack Slot Machine Racino
Slot machines will be allowed in Monmouth Park if a bill in New Jersey receives sufficient support from lawmakers and voters. The racino measure, however, faces long odds. (Image: Equi-Photo)

New Jersey Senator Joseph Pennacchio (R-Morris) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 this week. The bill proposes a constitutional amendment giving the state legislature the authority to introduce slot machines at horse racing tracks.

Revenue from the expanded slots would be allocated to the state’s retirement program and would support state riders and public investment in Atlantic City.

The New Jersey Constitution currently limits Las Vegas-style casino gambling to Atlantic City.

Efforts to allow casinos in the northern part of the state and slot machines at racetracks failed in several previous legislative sessions. Pennacchio has been writing laws on racism since 2014, to no avail.

Racino Law Details

If SCR14 somehow turns the tide in Trenton this year and gains enough support in every chamber, the bill would require the introduction of slot machines at state-licensed horse racing tracks. Voters would have their say in the 2024 presidential election.

There are currently three such qualifying locations, including The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, Monmouth Park in Oceanport and Freehold Raceway. Currently, every racetrack offers on-site and mobile sports betting.

If the referendum on slot machines at the racetrack received a simple majority, the New Jersey Legislature would have the authority to pass a law allowing such gambling at the racetrack. The racino slot machines would be subject to the same 8% tax that physical slot machines in Atlantic City pay on their gross gaming revenue.

Pennacchio proposes allocating 60% of those tax dollars to the state’s civil servants’ pension program. Thirty percent would go directly to Atlantic City’s nine casinos, 7 percent would be used for economic improvement projects in Atlantic City and the remaining 3 percent would benefit the riders.

The state’s nine casinos are likely to oppose Pennacchio’s legislation, as they have in the past.

Atlantic City’s gaming industry continues to emphasize that it remains in recovery mode from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although brick-and-mortar gaming revenue rose 1.8% through November compared to the same 11 months in 2022, casinos say higher overhead costs have more than dampened gaming gains.

Casino slot winnings amounted to almost $1.94 billion from January to November 2023. That’s 2.5% more than in 2022. Table profit fell 0.1% to $679 million over the same period. The December report has not yet been published.

Gaming advertising bill submitted

In addition to Pennacchio’s racino measure, New Jersey begins its 2024 session with a gambling law to restrict advertising from casinos and sports betting. Senate Bill 2156 by Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union) would restrict “advertising of casino gaming and sports pools under certain circumstances.”

These circumstances include that gambling prospects must ensure that their marketing materials do not reach people on the state’s self-exclusion list or people under the legal gambling age. The bill would require the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to “adopt rules to restrict advertising by casino licensees and sports betting licensees and their contracted operators that relate to casino gaming or sports betting only when such advertising is fraudulent or misleading.” is directed at people on the legally established self-exclusion list or is aimed directly at people under the legal age to gamble or bet.”

Cryan said it is critical that the state better protect consumers and those trying to limit their exposure to gambling.

Gambling at casino games or sporting events is a potentially addictive behavior that can cause psychological, social and financial distress to the individual, their family and their community. While gambling in various forms and through various media is legal in this state, measures must be taken to protect vulnerable populations…from the negative impacts associated with gambling.” Cryan said.

Both SCR14 and SB2156 have been referred to the Senate Government, Betting, Tourism and Historical Prevention Committee for initial consideration.

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